BOISE - Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador announced his bid for a second term on the Statehouse steps today, flanked by more than 30 state lawmakers who served with him when he was a state representative and a bevy of the state’s top GOP elected officials.
Labrador said with the economy improving, “The government just simply needs to get out of the way.” He told an appreciative crowd of about 300, “I share your values and your vision for America.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, with whom Labrador clashed as a state lawmaker when Labrador led House opposition to Otter’s proposed gas tax increase, laughingly ordered anyone in the audience who was wearing their red Labrador sticker on the left side to move it to the right. “We’re talking about Raul Labrador here!” he declared.
Labrador is being challenged in his bid for a second House term by Democrat Jimmy Farris, a former NFL football player and Lewiston native who’s making his first run for office.
Otter said, “It’s awfully important that we have a voice in Washington, D.C. that speaks loud and clear about the new Republicanism and the federalism that we believe in in Idaho. And Raul along with the rest of the delegation has been at the forefront for that.”
Labrador spoke proudly of his votes in Congress, including opposing reauthorization of the Patriot Act, supporting repeal of the national health care reform law, voting to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and opposing the National Defense Reauthorization Act because “it failed to clearly protect U.S. citizens from indefinite detention.”
He also alluded to his recent televised scrap with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a congressional hearing over the “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking investigation. “I don’t think he will ever forget that I am from Idaho,” Labrador said. “And yes, Mr. Holder, to answer your question, that is how we do things in Idaho. We ask direct questions and we get direct answers.”
The immigration attorney and former two-term state lawmaker declared, “Washington has not changed me.”
Some evidence: The freshman congressman hasn’t found himself a home to rent in Washington, D.C. while he’s there - he’s sleeping on his office couch instead, and returning to Idaho and his family each weekend. “I commute every week,” Labrador said. Asked how that’s going, he said, “Planes are not my favorite thing - that’s really the only tough part.”
Labrador is not alone among congressmen in choosing to bunk in his congressional office while in the nation’s capitol. “There’s people who have been doing it for over 10 years,” he said.
Last year, Politico reported that retiring Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan slept on the couch of his Capitol Hill office for 17 years and nine months; he told Politico then, “I always figured I’d lose someday, but it’d never be because I’d gone D.C. and forgotten who I worked for.”
Labrador and his wife, Becca, looked at possible homes in the D.C. area for the family when he first was elected, but decided against getting a place, at least for now. “I have kids in high school,” he said. “I want to make sure they still have those Idaho roots.” Labrador said if re-elected, he’ll continue sleeping on his office couch for the next two years.