Capitol & State

KIDO's Miller says Labrador should back up Barry Peterson

KIDO's Kevin Miller is calling on Congressman Raul Labrador to defend Barry Peterson against efforts to remove him as Idaho Republican Party chairman.

"He should be backing you up," Miller told Peterson on his 580-AM show Saturday. "Yeah, running for the majority leader is great, but when your chairman's under fire you don't leave a man behind."

Peterson welcomed the support. "I respect your position, you've said it well," Peterson said. "I haven't talked to the congressman about it since" the Idaho GOP convention adjourned without taking any action June 14.

"I'm not in a position to rank him or rate him, but he's doing what he's doing. I regret that there's not more cover for this thing," Peterson said. "It is clear to me that the delegates of the convention got to cast a vote at the time of adjournment to hold the existing officers in place, as well as the platform and other pertinent positions of the party."

Labrador chaired the convention that quit without votes on party officers or other business. At the time, Labrador told delegates that Peterson and the other officers would remain in place for two years.

But on Wednesday Labrador distanced himself from that view, telling the Statesman he was simply conveying the opinion of one of his two parliamentarians.

"I don't know much about it," Labrador said Wednesday. "I just asked the parliamentarian what would happen and I just relayed to the convention what the parliamentarian said. (Sen. Bart) Davis wasn't there at the time, so it was Cornel (Rasor). So I have no other opinion on that."

Davis, the other parliamentarian appointed by Labrador, said last week that he agrees with Idaho GOP general counsel Jason Risch and the top lawyer for the Republican National Committee that Peterson's term is over.

The dispute remains unresolved but may be headed for court, according to former GOP Chairman Trent Clark, who says Peterson should turn over the keys to new locks he had installed last week.

Peterson told Miller he changed the locks to secure GOP computers.

"It seems prudent to try to protect the information," Peterson said. "I just became aware that our computer system doesn't have a backup deal."

Peterson said he understood any reluctance on Labrador's part to defend him because of media bias.

"When you give yourself up to the press, then they pick and choose and they paint the color of your makeup," Peterson said. "You just do not get a full expression of who you are. So, Congressman Labrador, I personally don't see how he can win if comes to the media. I don't even know how he can be treated fairly if he comes to the media."

Replied Miller: "Oh, I think he can because he's the belle of the ball right now and he can add some credibility to where you are. He could back you up."

Peterson said he was grateful to Labrador for taking on the difficult job of chairing the convention.

I've emailed Labrador's spokesman a link to this blog offering the congressman a chance to comment. I'll update with any reply.