Idaho’s governor, Brad Little, said on Friday that he had repealed a ban on mask mandates that a political rival, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, had issued while he was traveling out of state for a conference of the Republican Governors Association.
“Let me offer some advice as Idaho’s duly elected Governor — governing in a silo is NOT governing,” Mr. Little said in a statement announcing the reversal. “The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.”
In the government equivalent of throwing a party while your parents are out of town, Ms. McGeachin, who is also a Republican and recently announced a bid to challenge Mr. Little for governor, had issued an executive order on Thursday banning mask mandates while Mr. Little had traveled briefly to Nashville.
She signed an executive order forbidding the state, municipalities and public schools from requiring masks. It said that wearing masks had done “significant physical, mental, social and economic harm,” that they failed to serve a health or safety purpose and that they “unnecessarily restrict the rights and liberties of individuals and business.”
Mr. Little said in an executive order, which was effective immediately, that the repeal would be applied retroactively to include Thursday, when Ms. McGeachin issued the ban.
Ms. McGeachin did not tell Mr. Little that she would be issuing the order ahead of time, his office said in a statement to KTVB, a television station in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Little said he would not comment beyond the statement he issued on Friday. Ms. McGeachin’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Friday.
The two officials, who were elected separately, recently went three weeks without speaking, according to The Idaho Statesman. Ms. McGeachin has consistently criticized Mr. Little’s measures to contain the virus, decrying restrictions as government overreach.
“The effects of the executive branch’s unilateral decisions will impact us for years,” Ms. McGeachin wrote in a guest essay in The Idaho Statesman this month.
Idaho did not have a statewide mask mandate, but an executive order effective May 21 required masks at long-term care facilities and said they were “strongly recommended” for others.
Mr. Little used an executive action to require social distancing and implement a brief stay-at-home order in March 2020, among other measures.
Mr. Little, who is in his first term, has not announced if he is running for re-election next year, but observers in the state believe he is likely to enter the race. It would set up a Republican race with the same contours as many others across the United States: Ms. McGeachin would be angling for President Trump’s base, while Mr. Little would represent a more moderate wing of the Republican Party.
Idaho has recorded around 192,000 coronavirus cases and at least 2,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.