After hitting the road to campaign for Donald Trump in three states in October, Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador traveled to New York City on Monday to meet with the president-elect at Trump Tower.
While Trump’s transition team provided few details about the private meeting, Labrador hinted that they discussed a role for him in Trump’s administration.
I want to be able to help this administration in any way I can.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho
“If I can help him in the administration or if I can help him in Congress, I’m very excited about it,” he told reporters afterward. “I’m excited for America, that we’re going to have an opportunity to have a new administration that has hit the ground running, and I think there’s a lot of ways that I can help.”
Trump is interested in Labrador’s conservative record as a “national leader on immigration and criminal justice reform” and his “great familiarity with Interior issues,” transition spokesman Jason Miller said on Monday.
Miller also noted that Labrador is a member of both the House natural resources and judiciary committees.
“We talked about a lot of issues ... about the West and how we could make sure that the Western issues are listened to,” Labrador told reporters, calling it a “great, great meeting.”
Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Trump transition team, called Labrador a "national leader on immigration and criminal justice reform and a "conservative member of the House (with) a great familiarity with Interior issues."
Labrador, 49, was elected to a fourth term last month. He has previously demurred when asked about meeting with Trump or taking a job in his administration.
While many Republicans distanced themselves from Trump in the final month of the presidential campaign, Labrador went to Arizona, Florida and Utah to campaign for the Trump ticket.
Last month Labrador told reporters that the conservative House Freedom Caucus he helped create could provide “the check on the presidency” by insisting Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is paid for and that Congress moves ahead to full repeal Obamacare.
“We are not going to vote for anything that increases the national debt,” Labrador said. “I believe in an infrastructure bill, but it has to be paid for. And if Trump doesn’t find a way to pay for it, then at least the majority of us – if not all of us – are going to vote against it.”
As of Dec. 9, Trump had met with more than 90 “highly qualified individuals who could potentially play a role in the Trump-Pence administration,” according to his transition team.
While the president-elect is sitting down with some of them to ask for their counsel, most meetings have been for job interviews.
Trump’s other planned meetings on Monday included former Hewlett-Packard executive and Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
What happens if Labrador leaves Congress?
The office remains vacant until a replacement can be elected at the next election, as set by Idaho code. The governor is charged with setting that election date.
It would trigger Idaho’s first-ever special election for a U.S. House seat. Idaho is the only state that hasn’t had a special election for an empty House seat, the Spokesman-Review said. And it wouldn’t be a conventional congressional election. With no primary, candidates of all parties run in one election.
And if Labrador’s western Idaho congressional seat opened up, who might be interested in? Among the Republicans who get mentioned are former Lt. Gov. David Leroy, House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane of Nampa, Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell and Coeur d’Alene Rep. Luke Malek.
A Labrador departure also would change the dynamics of the 2018 governor’s race. Congressman Labrador has long been interested in running for governor, a post for which Lt. Gov. Brad Little and former State Sen. Russ Fulcher already have announced.