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Bubblehead Calls Out Labrador

The young Congressman from our district, Rep. Raul Labrador, ran on a very idealistic platform that essentially boiled down to "America was a much better place in the 19th century, and we should return to that" — basically, straight Tea Party doctrine. (My posts from the campaign are here, here, and here.) As the underdog, Rep. Labrador apparently felt he needed to tap into Tea Party anger to get the Republican nomination, so he was the only major candidate to fill out the Tea Party Boise questionnaire. This document asked the candidates to "commit" or "pledge" to do several things, many of which were clearly delusional. Among the things that Candidate Labrador pledged to do was to "Vote "NO" on any bill that has not been read and understood by you and published on the web for at least 7 days prior to the vote"/Bubblehead, The Stupid Shall Be Punished. More here.

Question: Does Labrador have some 'splainin' to do to Tea Party minions?

PM: Gonzaga Releases Manny Arop

"It feels really squishy and slimy," said 2nd grader Tori Yonkers, as she held an octopus during class at Dalton Elementary in Galton Gardens earlier today. The hands on study was a result from a $500 Excel grant the teachers received to purchase the octopi, squid and other supplies. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Idaho congressmen split on spending cuts bill

When the spending cuts bill passed the House today, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, issued a statement lauding its passage and noting that it includes his language to remove wolves from endangered species protections and defund the Department of Interior's Wild Lands initiative. “Congress has the constitutional responsibility to fund government operations, and choosing not to do so would have been a failure of leadership," Simpson said in a statement. "It is important to recognize the sea change in public debate about spending has been taken up by Congress.  Just a year ago the conversation was about the government’s growing appetite for spending.  Today we passed a bill that cut more in spending than any other single bill in our nation’s history.  We still have a long way to go to address the deficit crisis facing our nation, but passage of H.R. 1473 is an important step in the right direction."

Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, voted against the bill. “I have been on the record supporting the delisting of wolves and defunding of the wild lands policy," Labrador said in a statement. "I co-sponsored separate legislation designed to achieve both of those goals. There were some other aspects of this bill I agree with, but the level of spending cuts simply wasn’t high enough to garner my support."

Click below for a full report from the Associated Press on today's House vote.

Simpson, Labrador Split Budget Vote

Also: Senate passes cuts 81-19, both Idaho senators vote no/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise

The House has passed a compromise budget plan to cut $37.8 billion in spending for 2010-11 — with Idaho's Republicans divided on the idea. Second District Rep. and House Appropriations Commiittee member Mike Simpson voted for the bill, which passed 260-167. First District Rep. Raul Labrador voted no. The plan contains two add-ons sought by Simpson: language to remove Idaho and Montana wolves from the endangered species list, and language banning the Bureau of Land Management from spending money on a "wild lands" policy that, according to critics, could open the door to additional federal wilderness/Kevin Richert, Statesman. More here.

Question: Are you happy with the compromise federal budget for 2010-11?

Labrador: ‘If being fiscally responsible is extreme and crazy, then I am’

Freshman Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador appeared on CNN's "Situation Room" program just now, in a panel along with three other tea party-backed freshman Republicans, Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Tom Graves of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona. CNN said it picked "one from each corner of the country," and was surprised to find the four split on tomorrow's budget-cuts vote: Two plan to vote in favor, one against, and Labrador is leaning against.

Labrador agreed with the others that the freshmen have made a difference, and helped bump up the level of cuts that now is being contemplated - though they want more. "When we started the debate, the initial offer was $31 billion in cuts. Some of us spoke up and said that it needed to be more," he told the program. "So we actually got it to $61 billion in cuts. And now we're getting $38, $39 billion in cuts. We're going to vote against these things, but I think we would have had much less."

At the close of the interview, the four were asked, "So are you crazy, or are you really the sanest people in America?" Labrador responded, "If being fiscally responsible is extreme and crazy, then I think I am."

Labrador Meets Post Falls Soldier

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, (left) meets Spc. Matthew Hoefling (right), a Post Falls native, with B Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade, Feb. 2 at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Labrador took time out of his schedule, assessing U.S. government spending in Iraq, to have dinner with Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers from his congressional district who are currently serving under United States Division Ð Center in Support of Operation New Dawn. http://www.dvidshub.net/news/66032/us-representative-visits-troops-baghdad. More here. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. April Davis, 116th Garrison Command, USD-C)

Raul Labrador’s Ritzy Meeting Flier

As you know, Congressman Raul Labrador is death on taxes and spending. Yet, as one Coeur d'Alene resident points out to Huckleberries Online, he used his franking privileges to send out an impressive flier inviting Coeur d'Alene area residents to his town hall in the Lake City Monday night.

Question: Does a ritzy flyer like the one mailed to Coeur d'Alene residents (above) undermine Congressman Labrador's message of fiscal conservatism?

Labrador cracks birther joke at CPAC

Freshman Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) brought birtherism to the stage at CPAC.

Speaking this morning, Labrador alluded to the fact that he was born in Puerto Rico.

That still makes him an American, though, he said.

"And I do have the birth certificate to prove it," Labrador said, apparently making a reference to the belief, held by some conservatives, that President Obama was not born in the United States. More.

What do think about Labrador's joke at the Conservative Political Action Conference?

Labrador Makes Yahoo! Tea Party List

In this Nov. 3 file photo, Raul Labrador is show moments before he talked with supporters at the Republican Party Election Headquarters at a hotel in Boise. At the time, the outcome of his race against Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick for Idaho's 1st Congressional District was undecided. Now, Labrador is listed among the Top 5 Tea Party candidates of 2010 by Yahoo! News political blog, The Ticket. Story here. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

Question: Are you comfortable that new U.S. Rep.  Raul Labrador, R-Idaho,  is considered to be one of the top Tea Party representatives in Congress?

Labrador To ‘Meet The Press’ Already

Just four days after being sworn in, Idaho's 1st District GOP Rep. Raúl Labrador will appear on the signature Sunday talk show, "Meet the Press with David Gregory." Labrador's office announced the booking late Thursday in a news release. By Friday morning, the Meet the Press website showed Labrador on Sunday's guest list. On the air since Postmaster General James Farley was the first guest in November 1947, Meet the Press is the longest-running show in U.S. TV history/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Why do you think "Meet the Press" wants to meet a freshman representative from Idaho's 1st Congressional District?

New Congress sworn in, including Idaho Rep. Labrador

Idaho's next Congress was sworn in today, including new Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador. New House speaker John Boehner, shown posing with Labrador and his family, administered the oath. Labrador issued this statement: "It is a true honor to be sworn to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  My Congressional offices are open and my staff and I will be dedicated to providing the best level of constituent services for the people of the First Congressional District.  I hope Idahoans will contact these offices, the People's offices, with their input on how America should be governed and with particular assistance they need from me." Click below for contact information for Labrador's new congressional offices in Washington, D.C. and Idaho.

DM: Some CdA GOPers Still Hate Raul

I believe that there exists a small haven of GOP malcontents in Kootenai County (CdA) that has NEVER gotten over the fact that Raul Labrador won the Primary over a candidate supported by them. The long knives are not yet obvious, but the tips of the bayonets are showing. I received a couple blog comments recently (since removed) from some folks from that area — and it got me thinking. Raul's win in the GOP Primary was so devastating to many of the GOP stalwarts that it put them in a funk from which they just never exited. I look at those CdA GOP-ites who DID come forward to successfully propel Labrador's victory in 2010 and the list reads like a who's who from the Helen Chenoweth/Dennis Mansfield/Bill Sali races of 1994-2006. … Yet, there were those who sat on their hands…and who vigorously opposed (and oppose, still) Labrador because … because … Because he is Raul Labrador - and because he won/Dennis Mansfield. More here.

Question: Is Dennis right? Do some Coeur d'Alene/Kootenai County GOPers still despise Rep-elect Raul Labrador?

Labrador hires on Minnick’s former constituent services director

GOP Congressman-elect Raul Labrador has hired outgoing Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick's constituent services director, Lisa Anderson, to be his constituent services director. "Essentially she'll be performing the same job that she was doing for Rep. Minnick," said Phil Hardy, spokesman for Labrador. "I know that his intention from the beginning was to hire the very best people who were interested in serving the 1st Congressional District, and Lisa was one of those people. They spoke and she reiterated her desire to continue to perform in her position in that role. She's extremely dedicated, and she came out as the most qualified person who had applied for the job."

Labrador had been openly complimentary of Minnick's constituent service record during the otherwise mostly testy campaign in which Labrador defeated Minnick in November. "He would always praise the job that Congressman Minnick and his team had done for constituent services," Hardy said. "And he's going to continue providing the very best level of constituent services to the people of the 1st Congressional District, absolutely."

Labrador announced the hire of Anderson, who will continue to serve in the Meridian office for the 1st District congressman, along with a slew of others late last week; they include Scott Carlton, former Lewiston regional director for then-Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, who will take on a role similar to the one he had with Chenoweth-Hage; and a legislative assistant, Alex Etchen, who most recently worked in the same role for the National Rifle Association.

John Foster, former campaign manager and communications director for Minnick, praised Labrador's move to hire Anderson. "I used to say without joking she was the most important person in our office," Foster said. "This is one of the more savvy things I've ever seen from a political office, so kudos to him for hiring her. She's aces. She's just really, really good. … I have to tip my hat - it's in the best interest of the constituents to keep her around." You can click below to read Labrador's full announcement of his latest new staff hires.

Dennis: Labrador’s Learning Curve

This week Raul Labrador will raise his right hand and swear an oath to the United States of America. Upon the completion of that oath, the "-elect" will drop from "Congressman" and Raul Labrador will be hurled into a world the daily duties of of which he is currently unaware yet will become all too aware within a week's time. He'll experience the "voting bells" of Congress. The meeting halls of Congress. The personalities of the GOP Leadership and he will experience the reality that he is fully capable of being a successful US Congressman. That this is so, may not be a big "ah ha" to many people - for the man ran for the office telling us that this is so - but each of us knows that applying for a job is much different than the first few days on the job…or the first few weeks … or months/Dennis Mansfield. More here.

Question: How do you prepare to begin a new job?

Boise firm to take over Labrador’s law practice

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Attorney T.J. Angstman says his Boise-based law firm will acquire U.S. Rep.-elect Raul Labrador's immigration practice in a deal expected to close this week. Labrador, an immigration attorney with offices in Boise and Nampa, beat Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick in the November election to represent Idaho's 1st Congressional District. The Idaho Business Review reports that the firm Angstman Johnson will purchase Labrador's practice, taking on all his cases and retaining his staff, in a transaction slated to close on Friday. Angstman Johnson will run Labrador's former firm as a separate entity called Accelerated Immigration; you can read the Idaho Business Review's full report here.

Roll Call: Minnick’s Done w/Politics

The Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” reports today that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick says he’s “gone for good” from elective politics. “I think I’m done with elective politics,” he told the newspaper.  “I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I think it’s time for somebody else.” The article examines the dismal elective record of Democrats in Idaho in the past three decades, and the Idaho party’s future prospects, perhaps with conservative, well-funded Democratic candidates like Minnick/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Will Raul Labrador break the string of one-and-done representatives from the 1st Congressional District?

Labrador committee assignments: Resources, Government Reform

Idaho Congressman-elect Raul Labrador has been assigned to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the 112th Congress, assignments he welcomed. “I ran for Congress to serve Idaho and to restore the people’s faith in government. These two influential committee assignments position me perfectly to accomplish these goals,” Labrador said. Click below for his full announcement.  

Labrador names legislative director

As Congressman-elect Raul Labrador continues to round out his new congressional staff, he announced today the hiring of Jason Bohrer, who most recently worked as legislative counsel for Sen. Jim Risch, as his legislative director. “I am delighted Jason has decided to join my staff,” Labrador said. “His knowledge and understanding of the issues critical to Idaho as will his experience working on the Hill will be valuable assets as we hit the ground running in January.” Bohrer also worked as a regional director of Sen. Larry Craig and as a policy director for the Idaho Republican Party. Click below to read Labrador’s full announcement.

Congressman-elect Labrador taps NRA lobbyist as chief of staff

Idaho Congressman-elect Raul Labrador has named his chief of staff: John Goodwin, who most recently worked as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Goodwin was communications director for Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois and press secretary for Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut. “John’s vast Capitol Hill experience will be an excellent resource to Idaho as I begin the people’s work in Congress,” Labrador said.

Labrador also announced two other staff hires: Phil Hardy, who served as communications director for Labrador’s campaign, will be the regional director for central and southwest Idaho; and Mike Cunnington, a Nampa native who was finance director for the campaign, will be Labrador’s scheduler and personal assistant in Washington, D.C. Earlier, Labrador announced the hire of Jake Ball, a former aide to Sen. Mike Crapo, as his district director. You can read Labrador’s latest announcement here.

Labrador Still Paying Student Loans

Idaho’s newest congressman-elect is a 42-year-old attorney and former state lawmaker, but he’s also still paying off thousands in student loans. “It’s how I got through law school,” said Idaho Rep.-elect Raul Labrador. The Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research group funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation, says it’s not uncommon for Americans, particularly those with professional degrees, to still be paying off their student loans into their 40s. “It’s taking longer and longer as people borrow more,” said Edie Irons, the project’s communications director. “We’re definitely troubled by it”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Did you have to take out student loans to get through college? How long did it take you to pay them off?

New congressman still paying off student loans

Idaho’s newest congressman-elect is a 42-year-old attorney and former state lawmaker, but he’s also still paying off thousands in student loans. “It’s how I got through law school,” said Idaho Rep.-elect Raul Labrador. The Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research group funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation, says it’s not uncommon for Americans, particularly those with professional degrees, to still be paying off their student loans into their 40s. “It’s taking longer and longer as people borrow more,” said Edie Irons, the project’s communications director. “We’re definitely troubled by it.”

Labrador reported on his congressional financial disclosure form that he still owes between $15,000 and $50,000 in federal student loans. “I’ve been paying on it for, I think, 15 years now,” he said. He said he doesn’t know exactly how much he owes, but it’s toward the lower end of the disclosure form’s wide range. “I believe if that’s the only way you can go to school, you should consider it,” he said. “You don’t have to go to the most expensive school, you don’t have to take out the most loans. Go to in-state schools or other schools that are less expensive.” You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.

Labrador in D.C.: ‘Such a privilege’

Idaho Congressman-elect Raul Labrador, after a week of new member orientation in Washington, D.C., pronounced the experience “amazing.” “I just felt the entire week like it was such a privilege to be there, and I was just in awe that the people of Idaho had given me that privilege,” Labrador said in an interview. His orientation started with a dinner with all the newly elected Republicans in the historic Statuary Hall; Labrador was joined by his wife, Becca.

New members also drew numbers for priority in choosing their office space, and though Labrador drew a low number - 78 out of 85 - he said he actually got an office in the Longworth Building that was among his top five choices. “I like the building - it’s kind of smaller offices, but a lot of history. They have beautiful wood paneling and things like that,” he said. “But I would’ve been happy with a closet.” He added, “Especially coming from the state Legislature - I had a cubicle.”

He and his wife arrived two days early to take a look at neighborhoods in Washington, “trying to figure out if we’re going to move our family there, keep our family here - we’re making some pretty big decisions about our life,” Labrador said. “Also trying to decide, if I’m going to be there by myself, where I’m going to live during the week.” For now, Labrador said he’ll commute to Washington and return to Idaho and his family on weekends; he’ll decide next summer whether to move them. Four of his five children are still in school, while the oldest is at Utah State University. “It’s a tough decision,” he said. “Our kids are very heavily involved in sports and school activities, they have great friends, they’re good kids, and obviously that’s to me more important than anything else I do is my family and my children. So I don’t want to do anything to hurt them.”

Labrador released an op-ed piece about his experience at the orientation, in which he said, “I was thrilled to find that most of my new colleagues are as serious as I am about reversing the direction that Congress has pursued the last two years;” you can read it here. He noted that of the 94 new House members, 85 are Republicans and 34 have never held elected office before.

The Other Idaho Gains Clout

Since 1998, the voters of Idaho’s 1st Congressional District have sent five people to the U.S. House. They had Helen Chenoweth-Hage, who retired in 2000. That led to C. L. (Butch) Otter, who served six years. Next up was Republican Bill Sali, who served one term. Democrat Walt Minnick defeated Sali in 2008. And now Republican Raul Labrador has ousted Minnick. In other words, the district has rotated through a string of freshmen and junior members. None of them amassed any real seniority on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, the people in the 2nd District have stuck with one representative. Now their investment is paying off. Just elected to his seventh term, Republican Mike Simpson is about to become a “cardinal” — one of the dozen chairmen who lead the House Appropriation subcommittees/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Why does the 1st Congressional District keep turning over its representative, while the 2nd District sticks with Mike Simpson and gains political power?

Florida U.S. Rep: Hispanic R’s ‘Great’

Newly-elected U.S. Rep. David Rivera of Florida told the Miami Herald he has been struck by the number of Hispanic Republicans arriving in Washington this year. Including Rivera, there will be five new GOP Hispanic members of the House. Two are from Texas, one from Washington state, and congressman-elect Raul Labrador of Idaho. “Idaho,” exclaimed Rivera. “They’re coming from districts where you’d never think a Hispanic was elected from. I’m really interested in knowing how he got elected”/Erika Bolstad, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Will the election of Puerto Rico-born Raul Labrador help change the perception of this country toward Idaho?

Larry Grant: Race Was Walt’s To Lose

In the comments section Friday, Larry Grant, the Demos’ 2006 candidate for Congress writes: in 2008, I stepped aside to let Walt run because I thought he had a better chance of winning than I did. I was right. He squeaked by in a tough race. I have also kept my mouth shut since then in order to let Walt run whatever kind of race he thought he needed to win in 2010. So let me get it straight: when I lost, I was a bad candidate, when Walt loses, there was nothing anybody could do, even though he was an incumbent with a conservative voting record with a $2 million dollar war chest who loses to an underfunded R who doesn’t have the support of half his party or groups like IACI. The race was Walt’s to lose. Full post below.

Question: Did Walt Minnick lose his congressional seat because he ran a poor campaign? Or was he simply a victim of the big Republican sweep in 2010?

Dennis: Minnick Deserves Our Thanks

I’d like to thank Walt Minnick. As he and I both concurred the other day: “It’s hard to run and lose a race for Congress”. Most people have no idea the energy it takes to run…and then lose. No, it’s not some type of misery-loves-company, political back-slapping insincere thank you. It’s a thank-you that deals with acknowledging his public service to the state for two years and for what he gave up in his family to do so. Congressmen’s lives are so chaotic. They feel like they live in airports half their lives…and the other half in hotels. Crab and moan all you want about the unjust “perks” that any congressman receives and then sit back and think about what they DON’T recieve: a normal life of seeing their kids play ball, going to a restaurant with their spouse, without interruptions and THEN having to endure these ungodly campaigns/Dennis Mansfield. More here.

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate Congressman Walt Minnick’s service to country?

Richardson: Labrador, three others key to immigration reform

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, addressing statehouse reporters from across the country this morning at the Capitolbeat conference in Phoenix, said he thinks the election of four Hispanic Republicans to Congress – including Idaho Congressman-elect Raul Labrador – is a promising sign for bipartisan immigration reform in the coming Congress. Richardson, who is Hispanic and who served in Congress for a decade and a half before becoming governor, said, “I think the chances are improved. There could be some areas of bipartisanship and the ability to get something done.”

He and other border-state governors have struggled with the immigration issue, dealing regularly with border violence and lawlessness. “You never win any votes dealing with this immigration,” Richardson said. “You know, Ronald Reagan pardoned 2 million immigrants. … Unless there’s bipartisanship, there will not be a comprehensive immigration bill.”

Richardson, a Democrat, a second-term governor, and former energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said, “My hope is the newly elected Hispanic Republicans … move beyond their campaign rhetoric, which was mostly anti-immigrant, and become … leaders.” He said, “I see them as potential linchpins of a bipartisan compromise agreement.”

Sali Won More Votes Than Labrador

In 2008, in Idaho’s 1st U.S. House district, Republican Bill Sali lost his office to Democrat Walt Minnick. In 2010, Minnick in turn lost it to Republican Raul Labrador. Question: Which of these Republicans, Sali or Labrador, would you suppose won about 45,000 more votes than the other in these elections? You can guess where this is going: Sali, in losing, took 171,687 votes, while Labrador, winning this year – in a strong win by a strong margin – took 126,231 votes: Far fewer. Look closely at the vote totals in the two elections and you find what sure looks like evidence in Idaho of that vaunted enthusiasm gap: A relatively larger number of Democrats not voting in 2010 who had in 2008. The closer you look, the more it looks that way/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press. More here.

Question: Stapilus acknowledges a dropoff in voters can be expected in a nonpresidential year. But the dropoff for Minnick was steeper than the one for Labrador. Do you know a Demo who refused to vote for conservative Minnick?

Labrador Breaks Idaho Stereotype

Idaho elected its first Hispanic to represent the state in Congress on Tuesday, as Raul Labrador upset freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick with a decisive 51 percent to 41.3 percent victory. Labrador, a conservative Republican state lawmaker and immigration attorney, said he thought the “first” was significant because it sent a message to the nation about Idahoans. “People have such a bad connotation of what Idaho represents,” Labrador said, “a bad place, a racist place. I can’t think of a better message for Idaho to send than to send a young man who was born in Puerto Rico, was raised in Las Vegas and was adopted by this state”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here(AP/Idaho Press-Tribune Photo: Labrador with his wife Rebecca inside the Republican election night headquarters in Boise Tuesday.)

Question: Will the election of Puerto Rican Raul Labrador as a congressman help change the nation’s view of Idaho?