During a two-day stretch in late October, Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador sent campaign contributions of either $250 or $500 to 40 GOP candidates for the Idaho Legislature, plus $10,000 to the Idaho Republican Party.
The money came as Labrador mulls a run for governor in 2018.
Two GOP officeholders, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, already have announced they’re in the race. Currently, Labrador is seeking re-election to a fourth term in the U.S. House.
“Raul Labrador has always made it a priority to strengthen and build up the Republican Party in Idaho,” China Gum, senior adviser to Labrador’s campaign, said in a statement Wednesday. “Whether it was through a financial contribution, an endorsement or encouraging candidates in their race, he’s always done whatever he could to elect Republicans at all levels of government. His recent contributions are just that, helping Republicans in tough races and supporting the state Republican Party with their ‘get out the vote’ efforts.”
Jasper LiCalzi, a professor of political economy at the College of Idaho, said, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d figure he was running for the speaker of the state House of Representatives there. Usually somebody who does that is interested in a leadership position in the Statehouse or something.”
LiCalzi said a future run for governor may not be the only reason for Labrador to make such donations, but, he said, “It’s another chip on that side of the scale that he does that.”
Labrador’s contributions to GOP legislative hopefuls included 23 to sitting senators or representatives who face Democratic challengers in the Nov. 8 election; three to Republican candidates who face only third-party challengers; and one to a representative who’s unopposed, Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian.
In addition to those contributions, state campaign finance reports show Labrador sent another $1,000 each to Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, on Oct. 27, though those donations weren’t reflected on Labrador’s latest federal report.
Labrador also gave to eight GOP candidates running in contested races against Democratic challengers for open seats, and to four GOP challengers who are running against sitting Democratic state lawmakers.
The 23 GOP incumbents who face Democratic challengers and got donations from Labrador included just four from North Idaho, other than Scott and Souza: Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; and Reps. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay; Eric Redman, R-Athol; and Caroline Troy, R-Genesee.
Labrador also donated to six GOP congressional campaigns in other states.
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