Letters From the West

Labrador prepares to run for re-election, calls out Boise crony capitalists

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, right, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., (Idaho Statesman File Photo)

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, right, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., (Idaho Statesman File Photo)

Idaho Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador is kicking off his campaign to hold on to his District 1 Congressional seat this week even though he has no serious competition in the primary.

He’s holding several campaign kickoff events and then heading the Salt Lake City Thursday to speak with western Republicans. I’m covering the race so we spoke briefly Monday.

Meanwhile Democratic Idaho State Rep. Shirley Ringo, of Moscow, was campaigning in Lewiston Monday. The former teacher, who Labrador i expected to face in the Fall,  spoke to students at Lewis and Clark State College and 5th graders.

Labrador said he would run on his record of keeping the promises he made when he first ran in 2010 and was reelected in 2012. He called on repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting the federal deficit and sought to stop the healthcare law implementation by shutting down the government.

I asked him how he will address the economic problems facing many of the voters in his district where the highest percentage of workers in the nation make minimum wage and the median per capita income is among the lowest and slowest growing in the nation.

In the rural areas he said the lack of timber and mining jobs due to over regulation and a lack of active management on federal lands is the major cause of low paying jobs. That’s why he is pushing his agenda to reduce regulation and to hand over management (not ownership) of federal lands to the states.

But he said many of the problems of income inequity in Idaho have to be addressed at the state level including tax reform. He said he tried to reduce tax rates in the state by eliminating loopholes when he was in the Idaho Legislature and was stifled.

“We have a lot of crony capitalists in Boise,” Labrador said.

He also supports tax reform at the national level, seeking to eliminate loopholes that allow companies like General Electric to pay no taxes while entrepreneurial start-ups face high rates.

He said Democrats want tax reform too but they want to use the proceeds for more spending while he wants to use the increased revenues to reduce the deficit even more.

Ringo said Lewis and Clark students talked about the ballooning cost of higher education and the few good paying jobs they can find after they graduate.

They asked me what might be done at the federal level to increase young people’s opportunity to attend schools after high school,” Ringo said.

She criticized Labrador for seeking to shut down the government to stop the Affordable Care Act that is the law of the land. And she said he supported of the House Republican budget, which would cut Pell Grants to pay for education and HeadStart, which helps prepare pre-school children and their parent for school.

“I think the congressman is out of touch with the needs of the people of Idaho,” Ringo said.


Labrador faces Lisa Marie of Boise, Reed C. McCandless of Moscow, Sean Blackwell of Rathdrum and Michael Greenway of Eagle in the May Republican primary.

McCandless said he’s running because Republican leaders stood by when he says American interests, not Al Qaida destroyed “Building Seven” near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

“If Republicans can’t take time to investigate Building Seven, I don’t have time for them,” he said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

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