Leroy is the first announced candidate in a likely crowded contest for the Republican nomination in the race. Former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has indicated interest in Labrador’s seat but has not filed to run. Democrat Michael Smith, of Post Falls, filed to run for the seat in March.
Though he is seeking federal office, he filed paperwork in the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday to signal his formal entry, which comes two days after Labrador made his gubernatorial bid official.
“I didn’t intend to run against Rep. Labrador, but when he declared this an open seat, I wanted to be the first one in the the race because I feel so strongly that this is an important race,” he said.
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Leroy, 69, resides in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District. He said he planned to move Washington, D.C., and live there full-time if elected, maintaining a residence somewhere in the 1st District.
He defined himself Thursday as a “constitutional conservative” and said he wanted to help break the “American gridlock” in Washington, D.C. Labrador, he said, has been “an excellent congressman.”
“But it’s also the time to move beyond principles,” he continued. “We must get past the gridlock we have on all these critical issues.”
Leroy said cited government overspending as a threat that has “compromised the republic” and said serving in Congress is “the most important political job in America” given its power over the federal budget.
He attacked the Affordable Care Act and said market forces could price health care options “appropriately and affordably.” He said coverage for pre-existing conditions should be provided by state-based high-risk pools.
Asked about President Donald Trump, Leroy said he would “work with the president, even though I don’t always appreciate everything he does, or especially everything he says.” He said Trump’s move to oust FBI Director James Comey this week was appropriate but badly timed.
Leroy served as attorney general from 1979-82 and lieutenant governor from 1983-86. He lost a bid for governor in 1986 and ran unsuccessfully for the same congressional seat in in 1994.
Yates to ‘formally explore’ statewide run
Steve Yates, who stepped down last month as Idaho Republican Party chairman, filed papers Thursday creating a campaign committee to “more formally explore” a run for lieutenant governor, but stopped short of officially entering the race.
“This step is intended to ensure transparency as I continue to discuss this position with my family, friends and Idahoans across the state,” Yates said in a statement.
Yates, of Idaho Falls, is potentially the fifth Republican in the race to succeed incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who is running for governor in 2018. The other announced candidates for Little’s seat are state Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian; Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon; former Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls; and Steve Pankey of Twin Falls.
Yates became state Republican chair in 2014. He lost a tight Republican primary contest for a state House seat that May.