BOISE – Idaho congressman Raul Labrador issued a call for bipartisanship Tuesday, saying the politics in Washington, D.C., are too tainted by partisan rifts.
Labrador told the Idaho House and Senate that since he has been in Washington, D.C., “My appreciation for the Idaho Legislature has only grown more.”
“I love working here because there is a true sense of duty that transcends party affiliation in the Idaho Legislature. This is not the case in Congress,” Labrador said. “I have seen a sense of duty and service take a back seat to the goal of only scoring political points.”
The freshman Republican, a tea party favorite, said he found Idaho a better atmosphere for bipartisanship, even though its state Legislature is 81 percent Republican.
“I actually worked with Democrats very closely when I was here,” he told reporters after addressing both the House and Senate.
“I served on the Judiciary Committee – there were a lot of issues that were bipartisan,” he said, specifically noting civil liberties. “I have great friendships with people on both sides.”
He added, “We were able to work together and respect each other. I am a little bit concerned about what I have seen over the last year here in Idaho. The rhetoric is ratcheting up, and I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Idaho’s GOP politics have taken a turn for the right, with the state’s new closed Republican primary election looming in May. Only registered Republicans will be allowed to vote in a state that before this year never required voters to register by party. The new primary has drawn a slew of challengers from the right for incumbent GOP lawmakers, including several in North Idaho.
Labrador, who is running for re-election, has had five challengers step up to run against him: Republican Reed McCandless, of Moscow; Democrats Jimmy Farris, of Meridian, a former professional football player and Lewiston native, and Cynthia Clinkingbeard, a Boise physician and farm owner; independent “Pro-Life,” a strawberry farmer formerly known as Marvin Richardson; and Libertarian Rob Oates, of Caldwell.
Labrador said it fits Idaho that many choose to run.
“I think I’ve done a good job, and I think the people of Idaho will probably choose to re-elect me,” he said, “but I have to earn that.”