Elections

Idaho candidate for Congress doesn’t live in his district yet — but the law doesn’t care

David Leroy, with his wife, Nancy, walks to the Capitol in May 2017 to announce his candidacy for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, the seat now held by Rep. Raúl Labrador. Leroy is a former lieutenant governor and attorney general.
David Leroy, with his wife, Nancy, walks to the Capitol in May 2017 to announce his candidacy for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, the seat now held by Rep. Raúl Labrador. Leroy is a former lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, said one of the factors that prompted her to join the already crowded 1st District congressional race was that “I live in the district, which is a little bit different.”

“When I first looked at this race, I was actually quite upset that David Leroy doesn’t live in the district, and for me that was a non-starter,” Perry told Eye on Boise last week. “I didn’t think it was quite right that he should jump into the race when he doesn’t live in the district or represent really its values in the way that my husband and I really do,” having both grown up in Middleton, which is squarely in the 1st District.

Leroy’s current home in Boise is in the 2nd District; the line between the two districts cuts through Boise.

But when asked about Perry’s comments, Leroy said, “I’m just delighted to spike that allegation. I have made arrangements to lease a house within the 1st District with an option to buy it, and will be making that move, so that I intend to be voting for myself. Good try, Christy.”

Leroy said he’s leasing a home in Eagle, just west of Boise, and will be moving in in late December or early January.

Congressional candidates aren’t required by law to live in the district where they run — they just have to live in the state they represent. The U.S. Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, specifies, “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”

The Washington Post reported in April that at least 22 current House members don’t live in the districts they represent. That’s 5 percent of the 435-member House. Some are longtime members who haven’t moved as district lines have shifted around them; others live just outside or near their districts.

“These district lines are relatively artificial — they move all the time,” Leroy said. “They’ll be moving again in 2020. It’s not a legal requirement, but I think it’s a political nicety that should be observed, and I intend to observe it.”

The race for the congressional seat — the one representing a district that stretches from southwestern Idaho all the way north to the Canadian border — already has drawn six Republicans and three Democrats. It’s an open seat in 2018, as current Rep. Raul Labrador is leaving it to run for governor.

In addition to Perry and Leroy, who are both Republicans, the candidates who have filed for the seat include former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; current state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene; Nick Henderson of Post Falls; and Michael Snyder of Bonners Ferry, all running as Republicans; and James Vandermaas of Eagle; Michael Smith of Post Falls; and Donald Roy Miller of Meridian, all running as Democrats.

“It’s an honorable field and the voters will have plenty of choices,” Leroy said.

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