Saturday, April 13, 2024

OPINION: Voters must say no to slate of dangerous extremists running in May 17 GOP Primary

by TOMMY AHLQUIST/Guest Opinion
| April 29, 2022 10:46 AM

Like most Idahoans, I grew up in a conservative family, deeply rooted in our faith and values. As a husband and father, I have endeavored to instill in my own family those same principles and virtues. As an entrepreneur, I have experienced how regulations can hamstring economic prosperity and believe deeply in a limited form of government that empowers individuals to create and grow businesses to solve community problems locally.

I am a conservative Republican, through and through, and I know most of my fellow Republicans in Idaho value the same things I do: freedom, fairness, and the rule of law. As we Republicans prepare to cast our ballots in the approaching May 17 primary, I must speak up in warning about a dark and growing drift towards fringe, extremist power in our state. This drift is driven largely by those who openly denounce the Idaho Republican Party while seeking to take it over. They claim to be speaking for the people of Idaho while only serving their secret out-of-state masters.

Leading their charge in Idaho is gubernatorial candidate Janice McGeachin, whose irresponsibility is outmatched only by her lack of regard for the rule of law. Consider:

• Janice McGeachin recorded a speech broadcast Feb. 26 at AFPAC, where she openly courted the most extreme fringes of society — including pro-Putin, QAnon conspiracy theorists, Jan. 6 insurrectionists, and Holocaust deniers — on a national stage.

• McGeachin formed a committee for the sole purpose of harassing and targeting Idaho school teachers. After refusing to provide public documents under a public records request, she asked taxpayers to foot her ensuing legal bills for breaking the law.

• McGeachin’s relatively modest office budget has been decimated and mismanaged to the point where she has no staff and the state will garnish her wages for the remainder of the fiscal year.

• McGeachin has employed staff who brag about shooting law enforcement on social media.

• McGeachin continues to court people who use intimidation and violent threats to terrorize and expose private information about private citizens — including judges, hospital workers, and police officers endangering their lives for just doing their jobs.

Looking further down the ticket at McGeachin’s associates does not inspire much hope either.

Consider also:

• Lieutenant Governor candidate Priscilla Giddings publicly revealed the name and face of a teenage legislative intern who has accused Giddings’ fellow Freedom Caucus lawmaker of sexual assault — a craven example of playing politics with people’s lives. Early in her legislative career, Giddings threatened, accused and belittled colleagues who voted differently than she did. Her bully tactics have no place in our Statehouse.

• Attorney General candidate Raul Labrador has a long history of being ineffective. As our Congressman, he was unable to pass any meaningful legislation. Now, he wants to create more chaos by becoming an Attorney General who interprets the Idaho Constitution through a dangerously political lens for his own personal gain.

• Secretary of State candidate Dorothy Moon is unqualified for the job. She makes no secret of her admiration for militia members and extremists. She was the keynote speaker at the national John Birch Society 60th anniversary celebration alongside known domestic terrorists like Matt Shea. Dorothy made headlines for her emotional reunion with Ammon Bundy after he left the jail in Las Vegas, and asked the Idaho House of Representatives to give a round of applause for her “friend” Eric Parker, the Bundy Sniper and founder of the III% militia.

• Lastly, there is Branden Durst, the extremist candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is running as a Republican despite having previously been elected to the legislature as a Democrat. From domestic violence incidents, to being held in contempt of court, to cursing and insulting a state senator in the Idaho Capitol, at every turn, Durst expresses true disdain for our values, our school board trustees, and the notion that local people know what is best for their districts.

While McGeachin is the most dangerous candidate in the Republican primary because she’s seeking our highest state office, she’s clearly not alone in espousing deeply dangerous views that threaten the rule of law in our communities and our very way of life. The only rules this group respects are the ones they write for themselves.

In short, these five are the true Republicans in name only. They publicly pledge allegiance to conservative values and drape themselves in the flag while they hijack our party to extremes that have reckless disregard for the people of Idaho, the Constitution and our values. Their election puts the very future of our state — and the futures of our children and grandchildren — at grave risk. When you detest the very institutions you seek to lead, chaos and destruction always ensues.

My fellow Idaho Republicans, the stakes could not be higher this May.

Let’s get back to electing qualified candidates who will solve real problems instead of manufacturing chaos, who are able to work well with other Republicans instead of dividing us further, and who share values with the law-abiding citizens of Idaho. Idaho is too great for anything less.

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Tommy Ahlquist is a former ER doctor, serial entrepreneur and CEO of BVA Development LLC. He is a past candidate for Idaho Governor. He has four children with his wife, Shanna, and lives in the Treasure Valley.