Despite mulling a challenge to Gov. Butch Otter in the May 2014 primary, 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador is co-hosting a fundraiser for him in Washington.
Labrador has put his name on the invitation for the Otter for Idaho event on Capitol Hill at the National Republican Club on Monday, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Other hosts are Lt. Gov. Brad Little and the rest of the state's congressional delegation: Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson. The event does not have a suggested donation, but Otter's two-time campaign manager, Debbie Field, said contributors will comply with the maximum allowed contribution of $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election.
On Feb. 8, Otter said that he was preparing to run in 2014, when he turns 72, but was not ready to formally announce. He said he was raising money and held a Boise fundraiser on Feb. 16.
I asked Jake Ball, Labrador's district director, whether Labrador's support of Otter signals that he won't enter the race, and if not, why he is helping Otter at this stage.
Ball's reply, while appreciated, was opaque: "Congressman Labrador has not made a decision about his future. He is currently dedicating all of his energies to serving his constituents ... and fixing the problems that the United States and Idaho face with regards to fiscal matters and our broken immigration system."
Field, a former Boise lawmaker and Otter drug czar, said she is an "active volunteer" for 2014 but is not at this time holding the "campaign manager" title.
Of Labrador's backing for the fundraiser, she said: "I know the governor appreciates the support of the entire ... delegation for this event. I'm not going to let words of support for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign come from anyone except the congressman."
Otter is in Washington for a National Governors Association meeting. He will join his colleagues Monday morning at the White House for a meeting with President Obama. On Tuesday, Otter will testify before the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. Labrador is a member of the panel.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438