Labrador misses self-imposed deadline on guv’s race, hopes for decision in ‘next couple of months’

Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador has delayed his decision on whether to mount a tea-party fueled challenge to two-term Republican Gov. Butch Otter in 2014.

At a Jan. 31 town meeting in Meridian, Labrador was urged by a member of the audience to run, which brought hearty applause. Labrador replied that he was “humbled and honored that people keep asking the question” and that he hadn’t decided.

“I will be making a decision about that in the next few months, hopefully by the middle of the year,” Labrador said. “But I’m just humbled that you would even ask that question. Thank you.”

As mid-year arrived on Monday, July 1, I asked Labrador spokesman Todd Winer about the congressman’s plans. Winer replied late Tuesday with a statement from Labrador that he’s “still considering all of the options” and that he hopes to announce a decision within the “next couple of months.”

Labrador’s full statement follows:

“The last few months in Congress have been extremely busy, and reminded me why I love representing the First Congressional District of Idaho. We have been working on a series of immigration bills in the Judiciary Committee, I have had important bills pass out of the Natural Resources Committee and we are having a productive conversation about our nation’s energy policy and fiscal future on the House floor. It’s an exciting time to be in Washington, D.C. Regarding my future in politics, I recently returned from the State convention, where I was asked about my plans by a lot of my friends and supporters, and I will tell you the same thing I told them — I’m still considering all of the options that are available to me, but my focus right now is being the most effective representative that I can be for my constituents. I hope to announce a decision within the next couple of months.”

After Labrador’s rock-star reception in Meridian, he sent two contrary signals in February. First, he co-sponsored a re-election fundraiser for Otter. Then, he cancelled two appearances on the GOP’s Lincoln Day circuit in Eastern Idaho.

Otter hasn’t made a formal re-election announcement but has said he plans on seeking a third term next year. Labrador, 45, is serving his seventh year in public office, four years in the Idaho House and 2 1/2 in the U.S. House. Otter, 71, has been continuously in statewide or federal elected office — lieutenant governor, 1st District congressman and governor — for 26 years. Otter also served four years in the Idaho House in the 1970s.

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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