An extraordinary public feud between Idaho’s two top leaders escalated on Tuesday when the state’s governor, Brad Little, accused fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin of overstepping her authority by ordering the state National Guard to the US-Mexico border while he was in Texas visiting the border.
McGeachin, who is running for governor next year, also drew Little’s ire on Tuesday when she attempted to broaden his executive order banning so-called vaccine passports.
“Before I even left the state, the Lt. Governor unabashedly requested information from the Adjutant General to deploy our National Guard to the border, the same place I am visiting today to work with my fellow Republican governors on solutions to the crisis,” Little said in a statement posted on Twitter. He traveled to Texas to meet with nine other governors to discuss border security and take a boat tour of the Rio Grande River.
Idaho’s Constitution says that in the event that the governor leaves the state, the lieutenant governor takes control of “the powers, duties and emoluments” of the governorship until the governor returns.
CNN has contacted the Idaho National Guard and McGeachin’s office for comment but did not immediately hear back. It was not clear if any agency acted on or followed McGeachin’s initiatives.
Also on Tuesday, McGeachin tweeted that she “fixed” Little’s executive order banning vaccine passports to include banning schools, colleges, and universities from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccinations or a negative Covid-19 test.
“I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!,” the lieutenant governor said.
Eight minutes later, Little tweeted, “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”
The dispute is the latest episode in an ongoing political skirmish between the state’s two top leaders. Little, who was first elected in 2018, has not yet declared whether he will seek reelection, but ahead of next year’s Republican primary, McGeachin has sought to establish herself as the champion of the Trump wing of the party while attempting to paint Little as an establishment figure.
In the wake of Little’s stay-at-home order at the onset of the pandemic last year, McGeachin wrote in an op-ed, “I lose sleep at night because the heavy hand of our government is hurting so many Idahoans.” That May, McGeachin issued an executive order banning mask mandates while Little was unaware and out of town, which Little subsequently repealed.
“The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt,” Little said at the time. “Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting Governor is, simply put, an abuse of power.”
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