Idaho governor and lieutenant clash over COVID-19 vaccine

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — After Idaho Gov. Brad Little left the state on Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin an executive order on COVID-19 vaccines.

“Oh no, you don’t,” said Little, who promised to pick it up as soon as possible.

The maneuvering by Idaho leaders came as Little met with nine other Republican governors in Texas to raise concerns about how President Joe Biden is handling border issues. McGeachin, a far-right Republican, is running for governor. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run with the same candidate.

McGeachin's executive order, issued Tuesday afternoon, is intended, among other things, to prevent employers from requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Most mainstream Republicans prefer to stay out of the employee-employer relationship.

“I am in Texas carrying out my duties as the duly elected governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the lieutenant governor to act on my behalf,” Little said in a statement shortly after arriving in Texas on Tuesday. “I will retract and reverse all actions taken by the Lieutenant Governor upon my return.”

Little was expected to be back in state Wednesday evening.

Also on Tuesday, McGeachin was rebuffed by Maj. Gen. Michael J. Garshak on a question about activating troops and sending them to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“As of Wednesday, my constitutional authority as governor gives me the power to activate the Idaho National Guard,” McGeachin wrote in the letter to Garshak obtained by The Associated Press. “As adjutant general, I am asking you to provide information on the steps necessary for the governor to activate the National Guard.”

Garshak responded with a paragraph on Tuesday afternoon.

“I am not aware of any requests for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona,” Garshak wrote in part to McGeachin. “As you know, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency.”

Little sent a team of Idaho State Police troopers to the border in June to help with intelligence gathering and investigative work to prevent drugs from crossing the border.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona had asked for help under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which authorizes states to help other states during disasters or emergencies.

“On September 24, I spoke with my counterpart in Texas, the office of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and they confirmed the need for additional resources to improve the situation at our southern border,” McGeachin told Garshak.

McGeachin's office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

“Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political gain is an affront to the Idaho Constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our state and country,” Little said in a statement.

While Little was out of state in May, she issued an executive order banning mask mandates, which Little rescinded upon his return, saying decisions about mask mandates were best left to local officials. Little has never issued a mask requirement.

Anna Harden

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