BOISE – Illegal immigration opponent Robert Vasquez will challenge Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig in 2008, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Vasquez, a Republican commissioner in Canyon County, plans a press conference today in Caldwell.
The outspoken illegal immigration critic was returning on Tuesday from Washington, D.C., where he had planned to file papers with the Federal Election Commission declaring his Senate run, spokesman Ralph Smith said.
On Tuesday, Craig said he was undecided on a 2008 run.
“I take one election at a time, and right now my focus is on the 2006 election and ensuring that right-minded candidates are elected,” Craig said in an e-mailed statement. “I will be helping throughout Idaho and in Senate races around the country to ensure Republicans retain the majority. I hope my fellow Republicans do the same.”
Canyon County, a patchwork of suburban Boise subdivisions and rolling rangeland, has seen a surge in population with Hispanics – who make up 20.5 percent of the county – outpacing all others in growth, according to census numbers.
While a commissioner, Vasquez became one of Idaho’s most strident voices on immigration. He asked the governor to declare Canyon County a disaster area because of an “imminent invasion” of illegal immigrants and tried to bill the Mexican government $2 million for county costs related to immigrant services.
He also called for the expulsion of students who waved Mexican flags at an immigration rights protest during school hours. Last week, he urged a boycott of a Spanish language newspaper.
Vasquez, who lost a leg while serving in the military in Vietnam, most recently placed second in a Republican primary in Idaho’s open 1st Congressional District. He trailed the winner, state Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, with 18.5 percent of the vote.
He is not on the ballot for re-election as county commissioner.