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Fireworks ahead: Vasquez joins 1st District race

Controversial Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez announced today that he’ll run for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat – the seat that represents all of North Idaho, as well as a swath of southern Idaho, including Canyon County. Vasquez is an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration whose caustic comments have upset the Hispanic community – though he’s Hispanic himself – in his home county, which has the largest Hispanic population in the state.

“I believe my fellow Idahoans know that we cannot allow Idaho to become like the states of California and Arizona,” Vasquez said in his campaign announcement, posted on his website. “Those who are aware of the illegal aliens overwhelming the medical and social services of those states realize that it will take a different mentality to honestly address the issue.” He added, “How can our federal representatives strive to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, while asking our young men and women to secure a foreign border, but ignoring ours, and allowing millions of illegal aliens to enter literally at will?”

The 55-year-old county commissioner, a Republican, has made waves by calling for his county to be declared a disaster area due to illegal immigration, sending a bill to the Mexican government for more than $2 million to offset what he said was the impact of illegal Mexican immigrants on the county, and blaming illegal aliens for spreading disease and boosting crime. He recently called for using racketeering laws to sue employers who hire illegal workers.

Already in the race are three other Republicans: former state Sen. Sheila Sorensen of Boise, Idaho Water Users executive director Norm Semanko, and state Sen. Skip Brandt of Kooskia. State Controller Keith Johnson and state Sen. Joe Stegner of Lewiston, also Republicans, have expressed interest in the race, while former 1st District Rep. Larry LaRocco, a Democrat, considered it but ruled it out. Vasquez, in his announcement, derided his opponents, saying, “Those previously announced candidates lack any real commitment to America’s language, borders and culture.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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