OPINION: I Expect an Idaho Mask Mandate Next Week
Call this a political theory.
After Governor Brad Little initially placed COVID-19 restrictions on the state last spring, there were a great many of his fellow Republicans unhappy not only with the overall decision but because they were blindsided. Some made their feelings known publicly and others behind the scenes. Many first learned of the details after being confronted by constituents. They thought Mr. Little left them out to dry.
If the Governor planned to saddle the state with a mask mandate today, some Republicans in hotly contested seats could pay a price from their party regulars.
Even as the Governor planned this past Monday’s announcement about a return to Stage 3, I was talking with elected Republicans who had no idea he had scheduled an afternoon news conference.
Most Republicans in Idaho have safe seats. The GOP controls almost 85 percent of all offices in the state from top to bottom. Yet, there are still some tight races. In places like Ada, Gooding and Bannock Counties. If the Governor planned to saddle the state with a mask mandate today, some Republicans in hotly contested seats could pay a price from their party regulars. Democrats would welcome the Governor’s decision.
I’ve got to believe he’s sensitive to the needs of the party at the local level. Because he’s gotten an earful. It’s why I’ve reached a conclusion any mask mandate won’t come until after Election Day. Mask opponents are mostly conservatives. Or so mainstream media claims. You don’t want to anger and alienate the civil libertarians before they vote. And I think it’s quite possible they could take out frustrations on Republicans by voting for an alternative at the local level. Don’t demoralize the base!
In deep red districts this is no big deal. In tight contests it could flip a seat.
I predict a mask mandate is coming to appease news media and hospital companies. Just don’t expect it before November 4th.