It Was Cat-and-Mouse In Idaho’s Statehouse Over COVID Masks

We all know what happens when the cat’s away. On Friday Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin found out what happens when the cat, in this case Gov. Brad Little, returns.

(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

McGeachin, a far-right Republican, tried to undermine Little’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in their state by signing an executive order without notifying him and while he was out of state this week that prohibited mask mandates of any kind throughout Idaho. Her order was signed by the Idaho’s secretary of state and went into effect at 11:00 a.m. Friday. Little had left the state Tuesday to attend the Republican Governors Association conference in Tennessee.

Little returned to the state Thursday evening and promptly on Friday morning issued his own executive order repealing the lieutenant governor’s order, describing her actions as a tyrannical abuse of power and an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.” McGeachin last week announced that she is running for governor in 2022. Across the state her short-lived order was seen as a kickoff move of her campaign. She reportedly already is using it in fundraising efforts.

The governor has never issued a statewide mask order, but a number of counties, cities and schools have done so on their own. Little tweeted Friday afternoon that he “does not like political stunts over the rule of law. However, the significant consequences of the Lt. Governor’s flimsy executive order require me to clean up a mess.”

In a statement he wrote, “Throughout the pandemic, Governor Little has been committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Idaho and has emphasized the importance of Idahoans choosing to protect our neighbors and loved ones and keeping our economy and schools open. Idahoans value local control and the local approach to addressing important issues.”

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