US Rep. Labrador, Mormon from Idaho, plans 2014 run for Congress
John Miller, Associated Press
MERIDIAN, Idaho — Republican U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador said Wednesday he'll seek a third term in Congress in 2014, ending speculation he'd mount a challenge to GOP Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in next May's primary election.
Labrador said his work as a congressman is unfinished and that he is well positioned to serve the state from that position.
"That's where I have the influence I need to be having," Labrador told reporters. "My plan at this time is to run for Congress."
While he said a race against Otter would have been a tough one, he took advantage of the meeting with reporters to blast the governor's administration.
"Butch Otter could do a better job," Labrador said. "I don't think I've been shy about what I think."
Labrador said if he were governor, for instance, he would be more aggressive about reducing Idaho's taxes for companies so they'd have more incentive to relocate. He said he hopes Otter comes to talk to him following Wednesday's announcement, "now that he doesn't see me as a competitor," Labrador said.
Otter's campaign manager Jayson Ronk said the governor has promoted and signed business-friendly legislation, including cutting Idaho's income and personal property taxes. Otter's credentials "speak for themselves," Ronk said Wednesday, responding to Labrador's comments.
Otter's and Labrador's differences are well publicized.
In 2008, Labrador opposed the governor's choice as chairman of the Idaho State Republican Party in what amounted to a something of a coup.
And as a state legislator in 2009, Labrador made a name for himself opposing Otter's push to increase Idaho's gasoline tax.
Labrador came to the U.S. House in 2010 by beating former Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick for the House seat representing western and northern Idaho in a GOP wave election spurred by conservative, tea party voters.
In 2012, he consolidated his position by easily fending off a challenge from Democratic upstart Jimmy Farris, a former professional player.
While in Congress, Labrador has promoted changes to America's immigration system. But he's emerged as a vocal opponent of legislation passed this year by the U.S. Senate, contending it does too little to halt illegal immigration.
His decision not to run for governor in 2014 will disappoint some political observers who had relished the prospect of a competitive GOP primary featuring two prominent Republicans.
Otter, 71, is one of Idaho's longest-serving elected officials with stints in the state House, as lieutenant governor and a U.S. representative.
Meanwhile, Labrador, just 45, is considered an up-and-coming leader who after his 2010 election quickly emerged a regular on national TV news shows, especially on the subject of immigration.
Besides Otter, Labrador has clashed with other Idaho Republicans, including eight-term U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson.
In January, Simpson said Labrador had undermined his own credibility in the House by opposing House Speaker John Boehner's re-election to the post, while Labrador called Simpson a bully who wasn't serious about reducing U.S. budget deficits.
A Mormon immigration lawyer who moved to Nevada from Puerto Rico as a child, Labrador has sought to maintain an image as a Washington, D.C., outsider, even sleeping on a mattress in his office rather than renting an apartment.
Those seemingly-temporary quarters in the Longworth House Office Building on New Jersey Avenue helped fuel speculation that Labrador's stay in the nation's capital wouldn't be prolonged.
Now that he's running again, Labrador said he'll have to consider whether to move his family to Washington, D.C. — and getting more permanent housing.
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