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For Labrador, tea party means ‘not beholden to special interest groups’

Musing about what his “tea party” identification means, Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador said today, “I always used to joke around that I was tea party before tea party was cool.” But he noted that he never joined the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House. “I think any time you try to formalize a movement like that, you actually take away some of its legitimacy,” he told reporters. “The tea party is kind of an amorphous group that has a bunch of different definitions.”

He said in his view, “It’s about being somebody who’s not necessarily beholden to the special interest groups. That’s why I sometimes identify with the tea party, sometimes identify with the libertarian side, I sometimes identify with the so-called conservatives. … What you have is a bunch of people … that are frustrated with business as usual.” He defined that business-as-usual as, “In order to talk to a politician, have a politician pay attention to you, you actually have to just donate money to their campaign.”

Longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby called Labrador’s definition “pretty broad and amorphous – it would apply to a lot of populist groups.” But he noted, “There certainly is a lot of populism within the tea party movement.”


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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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