Forget governor? Idaho’s Labrador touted as next House speaker

Though he’s just in his seventh year of public office — four of those as a junior member of the Idaho House — 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador has landed in a Top 10 of possible successors to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

The list was prepared by Roll Call reporters Emma Dumain and Matt Fuller in a column titled “10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker.”

Labrador is listed last on the list, which begins with more conventional candidates including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Dumain and Fuller say Labrador’s chances are linked to the success of Club for Growth-backed challengers, including Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls, who is running to defeat Labrador’s eight-term Idaho 2nd District colleague, Congressman Mike Simpson.

They write:

“Club for Growth President Chris Chocola recently said that if his group does its job, it will get enough of its endorsed candidates into Congress that ‘they’ll elect one of their own for leadership.’ If that ever happens, they could end up electing Raúl R. Labrador.

“The Idaho Republican is part of the 2010 tea party wave that came to Washington to cut spending and shrink government, and to do so by whatever means necessary, earning the group the nickname the ‘Hell No Caucus.’

Peers see Labrador as a leader who’s unflappable, smart and well-spoken.”

Meanwhile, Labrador has been considering leaving Congress to challenge Gov. Butch Otter in the May 2014 GOP primary. Labrador originally said he would decide by mid-year, but now says he’ll make the call in the next few months.

The Roll Call post appeared late Wednesday and I didn’t see it until Thursday afternoon. Late Thursday, I asked for comment from Labrador. If I hear back, I’ll update this post. Last week, Labrador issued a statement after a Huffington Post reporter said Labrador’s election as governor would make him a presidential prospect.

“That was speculation by a reporter,”  Labrador said. “I have no interest in running for President. It’s never entered my mind.”

Roll Call’s Dumain also covered last week’s flap over remarks by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who said drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes” far outnumber high-achieving “Dreamers” who cross illegally to the U.S. to attend school and better their lives. Labrador criticized the media for overplaying the story, telling Dumain, “Shame on you. Shame on the media for only concentrating on that aspect of it.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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