HuffPost: Labrador ‘likely’ to challenge Otter, then eye White House

Perhaps eager to set off “one of 2014′s more intense intra-party showdowns” the left-wing Huffington Post quotes an anonymous person “close to Labrador’s political operation” as its source in predicting a Labrador-Otter matchup in the 2014 Idaho GOP primary.

“I think he’s going to run,” the close and nameless person said of two-term GOP Congressman Raul Labrador’s talk of challenging two-term Gov. Butch Otter in a story by Jon Ward published online Tuesday.

Ward cites Labrador’s “track record of not shying away from a fight that he thinks is worth fighting” as a foundation for taking on Otter, a prospect Ward calls “likely.”

“A Labrador challenge would set off one of 2014′s more intense intra-party showdowns,” Ward writes. “And if he were to win, that would immediately place him on the roster of potential GOP presidential candidates — at least in 2020, if not in 2016.”

Labrador brushed off Ward’s noodling. “That was speculation by a reporter,”  Labrador said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “I have no interest in running for President.  It’s never entered my mind.”

Labrador is in his third year in the U.S. House. He served four years in the Idaho House, from 2006 to 2010. Two Idahoans have run for president, GOP Sen. William Borah in 1936, while he was serving his 30th year in Congress; and Democratic Sen. Frank Church in 1976, while serving his 20th year.

As for governor, Labrador repeated to the Huffington Post what he’s been saying since he missed a self-imposed July 1 deadline for deciding whether to challenge Otter, who has continuously held statewide or congressional office since 1987.

“You know, I don’t talk about that,” he said. “It’s going to be in the next couple months I will make a decision. It’s a private conversation that I’m having with my wife and some close associates.”

Otter has said he’s running for a third term and has been raising money. But he has yet to make a formal announcement. His mid-year campaign finance report, due July 31, should signal how seriously he’s taking the race at age 71.

Last week, I wrote that a careful reading of his July campaign finance report makes it clear he’s not running for governor. Among the clues: He got $10,000 from Idaho’s senior lawmaker, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who would never encourage the sort of intra-party battle relished by folks working for Arianna Huffington.

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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