Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, would trigger Idaho’s first special election for a U.S. House seat if he leaves Congress for a job in the Trump administration, a possibility he hinted at Monday.
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.
But it wouldn’t be a normal affair. Idaho is the only state that hasn’t run such a special election for an empty House seat. If it did, there would be no primary.
“It’s a single special election, so everybody who wants to run for it just runs,” said Deputy Idaho Attorney General Brian Kane. “It’s a good old-fashioned donnybrook.”
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, Coeur d’Alene Rep. Luke Malek and Caldwell Sen. Jim Rice.
Leroy said he’d run in a special election if Labrador leaves the office. “Absolutely — if Congressman Labrador determines to make that an open seat, I will immediately explore the possibility of running,” he said Monday. “I have had many discussions with key leaders about the possibility of running and remain in that stage.”
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.
Bill Dentzer contributed.