MERIDIAN, Idaho - Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador announced this afternoon that he’ll seek a third term in Congress, not run for governor.
“I’ve decided to end all the speculation and announce that I have no plans at this time to run for governor,” Labrador said at a Meridian news conference. “I do not feel that I have yet completed the mission you sent me to Congress to do. There is still much work to be done. Whether at the state or the national level, I will always be an advocate for Idaho.”
In response to questions from reporters, Labrador said, “I never really thought about it seriously. At first it was kind of funny when people would ask me – I had only been in Congress for less than one term, and people just started asking me if I would run for governor.” He said he’d actually decided against it about three months ago, but when he started calling supporters to let them know, they got mad, so he considered it some more. “Running against Gov. Otter would have been a tough race,” he said.
Labrador said he never did any polling. “You can’t ever say never to anything,” he said, but “At this point I don’t think it’s in the cards.”
Asked if he thinks Otter is doing a good job as governor, Labrador said, “You know, Butch Otter could do a better job, and I don’t think I’ve been shy about saying what I think.” He said now that he’s made it clear he won’t challenge Otter, he hopes the two can talk and work together on issues. “I hope now that he doesn’t see me as a competitor, that he can see me as a partner.”
The outspoken Labrador, who frequently appears on national political TV shows and has been the subject of rumors in D.C. about everything from a future speakership to a future presidential bid, served two terms in the Idaho state House before being elected to Congress in 2010. Prior to heading to Congress, he was an immigration attorney.
He said he’s been “flattered” by all the speculation, which he called “amazing.”
“I don’t know where it’s coming from,” said Labrador, a native of Puerto Rico who’s become one of the few prominent Hispanic GOP voices in Congress in this year’s talks over immigration reform. “People in Washington see me as a player, as somebody who’s actually making a difference on the issues.”
He said, “My plan at this time is to run for re-election. I will have a more formal announcement about my re-election plans. … I just wanted today to end the speculation.”