Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador made his first official appearance as a 2018 candidate for governor Tuesday, speaking to supporters at the Boise home of his wife’s parents, where he promised to “get government out of the way.”
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to propel the state forward, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead and to achieve the results that can only be reached through the application of conservative principles,” he told supporters, adding later: “Let us unleash all that is possible when the government embraces and delivers on the promise of conservative principles.”
It was the first of three campaign announcements Labrador is making this week, with campaign stops planned for Post Falls and Idaho Falls in the coming days. Labrador made his candidacy official when he filed the necessary paperwork to run earlier this month.
In his public comments Tuesday, the four-term Republican congressman cited his “willingness to stand up against the establishment” as a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and stressed improving the state’s education system and reforming a “tax code riddled with carve-outs for special interests.”
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He amplified those remarks with reporters after speaking to supporters.
“Every time there’s a piece of legislation I’ve worked hard to make it more conservative,” he said, addressing his record in Congress. “The main thing that we have done is bring conservative leadership to the House.”
Labrador did not mention health care in his remarks to supporters. He drew national headlines earlier this month after saying at a town hall meeting in North Idaho that “nobody dies” from lack of access to health care. Addressing the media uproar that followed those remarks Tuesday, he repeated his contention that opponents and the media had focused on just five seconds of a longer comment he made.
Labrador faces a crowded field for the Republican nomination to succeed Gov. Butch Otter, who is leaving office after three terms. Four other candidates have filed to run: Lt. Gov. Brad Little, whom Otter has endorsed; Treasure Valley businessman Tommy Ahlquist; former state Sen. Russ Fulcher; and Lisa Marie, a former candidate for Congress. Among Democrats, the only announced candidate is Troy Minton, a homeless Boise man. The 2014 Democratic candidate for governor, A.J. Balukoff, is said to be weighing a second run.
Labrador said he accepted the disadvantage of running a campaign for governor while remaining in Congress.
“When I’m not in D.C., I’ll be here trying to run for governor, but I’ll be in D.C. most of the time and that’s OK. You have to do both,” he said. “I think I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I just have two full-time jobs right now.”