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Will Idaho voters support someone who advocates against law enforcement?

On Saturday morning, Janice McGeachin’s campaign for Idaho governor sent out an email touting an endorsement from convicted criminal Todd Engel. Engel formally endorsed McGeachin in November of 2021.

Engel is a leader of the Idaho III%, a militia group, who previously supported Ammon Bundy. (Bundy is running as an Independent in the general election and will not appear on the May 17 Republican primary ballot.) Engel served four years in prison for his role in the armed standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada in 2014. Engel also joined Bundy in the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in early 2016.

Engel’s endorsement is yet another example of the growing relationship between McGeachin and extremists and white nationalists. On April 1, McGeachin appeared with Engel at the North Idaho ranch of Idaho Freedom Foundation board chairman Brett Regan. A post on McGeachin’s Facebook page that contained a photo of her meeting Engel was removed for an unknown reason. Extremists like Engel have announced their endorsement of McGeachin in recent weeks because of the “access” she offers them. McGeachin’s ability to consolidate extremist and white nationalist support may have led Bundy to abandon his Republican gubernatorial bid. 

McGeachin is vocal about courting support from paramilitary leaders, who retired law enforcement officers have said she treats like “personal bodyguards,” preferring them to the Idaho State Police. As part of this outreach in  2019, while serving as acting governor, McGeachin presided over The Oath on Patriots Day, where gave militia members the same oath she gives Idaho state senators. 

Engel is also running for the Idaho Legislature in District 1B.