Tuesday, July 23, 2024

McGeachin gives AFPAC standing in Idaho

by CHUCK MALLOY/Special to The Press
| March 7, 2022 12:42 PM

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is getting just what she needs to boost her campaign for governor: Attention, and lots of it.

To get all this publicity, she had to speak to the America First Political Action Committee (AFPAC) — a group in which some of the main players support Vladimir Putin, Adolph Hitler and white nationalism. But to a candidate who fashions herself as the female version of Donald Trump, the end result is all that matters.

Just ask Trump.

He used terms such as “savvy” and “genius” in describing Putin’s bloodbath in Ukraine. Days later, those attending the C-PAC gathering in Florida practically were handing the former president the 2024 presidential nomination.

With McGeachin, the media and politicians have been lining up — saying how “reasonable” people should be outraged about her giving the time of day to this off-the-rails group. But, if anything, she has galvanized her base — those who put her in office in the first place.

The base includes some Republican central committees, including the one in Kootenai County. If that organization took a straw vote for governor among its members, I’d guess that McGeachin would win by a landslide.

Her base won’t be swayed by Gov. Brad Little, or state party chair Tom Luna, as they talk about their opposition to divisive groups such as AFPAC. McGeachin and her base can easily dismiss Little as a RINO and Luna as an arm of the political establishment. And who cares what the media reports?

Recently, McGeachin says to supporters, “Someone asked me if I was depressed by the mainstream media’s latest smear against me. I said, ‘Hell, No! I’m energized and defiant!’”

In a recent television interview with KTVB’s Brian Holmes (Boise), he repeatedly asked McGeachin how much research she did on AFPAC before speaking — which was a fair line of questioning. But the interview had the earmarks of an interrogation in a cheap gangster movie, minus slaps in the face and chopping off fingers to get her to say what Holmes wanted to hear.

To the “reasonable” people, McGeachin looked like a stooge. To McGeachin’s base, Holmes looked like a bully — one of these mainstream liberal reporters trying to beat up a principled conservative.

On the “print side,” former Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones weighed in on the situation, again appealing to all the “reasonable” people out there. Jones exposed some strange characters involved with AFPAC, including its founder, Nick Fuentes, “who has compared himself to Adolf Hitler and praised Vladmir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Fuentes is a white supremacist who has expressed anti-semitic views and Holocaust denial and is opposed to women’s right to vote.”

And Fuentes was a big crowd pleaser at the conference.

As Jones lectures, “Every responsible politician checks out the views of an organization before agreeing to speak.” That’s sound advice, giving a speech to political crackpots is not a sound strategy. But McGeachin and her supporters neither need, nor want, advice from Jim Jones or anything to do with the Take Back Idaho political group that he started.

“As conservative Trump supporters, we’ve spent the last six years being slandered and accused of all manner of evil,” McGeachin wrote in her recent newsletter. “I’m not disheartened, though. I’m ready to fight! America is worth defending and our conservative values are worth protecting at all costs. The radical left and their RINO allies are using the media to try to silence conservative and force them to apologize for telling the truth.”

She continued: “We know that the mainstream media has chosen to side with America’s enemies as have the radical leftists and the corrupt politicians who dishonestly claim to be Republicans. We are clear-eyed about our objectives and undeterred by the transparent attempts to vilify our efforts.”

McGeachin is a long way from getting the keys to the governor’s office, and it’s doubtful that she has enough broad-based support to get there. But, thanks to her speech to AFPAC and the overall reaction, her campaign has new life.

The Lewiston Tribune’s Marty Trillhaase made an excellent point in a recent editorial. McGeachin may know something about Idaho’s Republican voters that “reasonable people” don’t.

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Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.