Republican rancher takes down a Trump-backed extremist in Idaho’s gubernatorial primary

Republican rancher takes down a Trump-backed extremist in Idaho’s gubernatorial primary

Former President Donald Trump had his successes and disappointments on Tuesday, May 17, when more GOP primaries were held. Some Trump-endorsed Republicans were victorious in their primaries, including Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race and Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race. And as of early Friday morning, May 20, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who Trump endorsed, had a razor-thin lead over hedge fund exec Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

But Trump ally Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina was voted out of office via a GOP congressional primary. And in Idaho, the former president suffered a major disappointment when Idaho Gov. Brad Little defeated Trump-backed challenger Janice McGeachin, Idaho’s far-right lieutenant governor, by 21%.

One of McGeachin’s outspoken critics in Idaho is Jennifer Ellis, a rancher and conservative Republican who heads the political action committee Take Back Idaho.

During an interview with Politico published on May 20, Ellis discussed her group’s activities.

Ellis, Politico’s Ryan Lizza notes, founded Take Back Idaho in 2021 to “beat back the growing tide of extremist candidates” in her state. She formed the group, Lizza notes, after she “noticed a dramatic shift within the Republican Party.”

Ellis told Politico, “I started seeing this name calling. People that I knew (who) were very, very conservative in their personal lives and in their policy making started getting called RINOs, and I kind of thought, ‘What’s that? That’s coming from inside the party.’”

Little is definitely right-wing; no one will mistake Idaho’s Republican governor for a liberal or a progressive. But McGeachin is way beyond conservative; she’s an extremist. McGeachin has allied herself with members of the Three Percenters, a far-right anti-government militia group — and she was a speaker at the 2022 America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), an event organized by holocaust denier and White nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Ellis said of McGeachin, “She didn’t just jump the shark, she ate it on the way over. I mean, far right is one thing. Alt-right is a whole other thing.”

Politico asked Ellis to discuss the battle between establishment Republicans and far-right MAGA candidates in her state.

The Take Back Idaho founder told Politico, “I think there are so many bigger concerns than who Trump wants. In a state like ours, we’ve got a lot of challenges. We’ve got drought. We’ve got wildfire season coming. We have got infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. I mean, we have real-world problems, not political problems. And we need grownups to fix them. And that’s the folks that we tried to get elected. So, I think it’s a waning influence over time.”

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