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Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Hold the dominoes – Trump tapping Zinke for Interior?

The Washington Post is now reporting that President-elect Donald Trump has decided on first-term Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as his Secretary of the Interior – not Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador or Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. This isn’t the official word; the Post reports that “Trump has tapped” Zinke, “according to an individual with first-hand knowledge of the decision.”

When I inquired of the Trump transition team as to what part of the administration Labrador was being considered for when he interviewed with Trump in New York yesterday, the emailed response said only, “We are not commenting on specific purposes for the meetings, but have made clear that President-elect Trump is meeting with many, many people who are experts in areas to gather their advice and potentially to have them serve in the administration.” The email noted earlier comments from spokesman Jason Miller: “The President-elect met with Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho. Congressman Labrador is serving his third term representing the 1st Congressional District of Idaho. He is a conservative member that has great familiarity with interior issues. Congressman Labrador serves on the Natural Resources and Judiciary committees, where he is a leader on immigration and criminal justice reform.”

Labrador’s office hasn’t responded today to my requests for comment.

Lots of political dominoes were theoretically being lined up in Idaho and Washington in case either Labrador or McMorris Rodgers was the pick, as the move would mean a special election to replace the departed member of Congress. In Idaho, that first-ever special election would have no primary – all candidates would run together in a single race. If multiple Republicans ran but just one Democrat – Democratic challenger James Piotrowski took 31.8 percent of the vote to Labrador’s 68.2 percent in November – the Republicans could split the vote enough to enable a Democrat to win.

That may all be academic now. Or it may not – it’s pretty hard to tell at this point. Before the speculation about an interior appointment, there were rumors that Labrador was being considered for a position at the Justice Department having to do with immigration and/or criminal justice reform. Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s full report.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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