Idaho's Uncivil War
Journalist Zach Hagadone on how Republicans conquered the state, and then began eating their own.
In early April, we brought you the strange story of the blood feud between North Idaho College’s administration and its board of trustees. NIC is a public junior college and its board had always been elected by the people of Kootenai County, but to hear locals talk about it, those races were never partisan. That changed last year and the resulting saga was by turns silly, absurd, chilling and at times, even a little scary.
If you would have asked me then, I would have probably said that would be the weirdest local news story of the year. Boy was I wrong.
Since then, most of Idaho seems to be caught in one preposterous political news cycle after another. Here’s a taste of the stories that have come since:
The Kootenai County library board race ended in veiled accusations of Satanism
Current Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin created an anti-indoctrination taskforce to “to protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism."
A group of legislators led by McGeachin later held the state budget hostage until the legislature agreed to ban teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, including colleges — despite failing to define just what Critical Race Theory is.
Five rural Oregon counties voted to secede from the Beaver state and join Idaho.
That’s just scratching the surface, honestly.
And while it’s not immediately obvious the through-line connecting these stories, our guest this week, Zach Hagadone of the Sandpoint Reader, argues they’re isolated skirmishes in a multi-way civil war for the soul of the Idaho Republican Party.
It’s a big topic, with both regional and national implications — as many as 24 states have followed or are considering following Idaho’s lead on Critical Race Theory as well — so this is going to be another one of our patented two-part deep dives.
Buckle up, it’s a wild ride.