Writings and observations

Labrador

Raul Labrador

Campaign opening day announcements are usually cheerful points of non-controversy, a positive opening to the campaign, unless the candidate screws up and makes it controversial. In this case, Raul Labrador, running now for the U.S. House in Idaho’s 1st district, didn’t screw up, but controversy poked in anyway.

That came from state Senator Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden, who “called on Raul Labrador to withdraw from the 1st Congressional race” – on the day Labrador entered it! (That would undoubtedly have been a first.)

His cause: “Raul Labrador is an immigration attorney and admits to defending illegal immigrants in his law practice. He has been on retainer as an immigration attorney to the Idaho industries that support a ‘free flow of labor across America’s sovereign borders’ while at the same time serving as an Idaho State Representative. Labrador has defended individuals who have smuggled illegal immigrants into the United States and who have committed document fraud. He voted to give illegal immigrants Idaho taxpayer funded benefits, supported several Congressional bills that would grant the precious gift of citizenship to people who are residing in our country illegally and has fought to keep illegal immigrants in Idaho by refusing to support a bill with mandatory employment verification . . . His pro–illegal immigrant stances are wrong for Idaho taxpayers and Idaho’s unemployed . . . In this economy Idaho families can’t afford Labrador’s liberal plans.”

Liberal! You know this is getting hot when that accusation gets thrown around an Idaho Republican primary.

Calling Labrador “liberal” is beyond a stretch; fellow Republicans regard him as among the more conservative state legislators, which is saying something. You can tell in part from Labrador’s tart response: “You know, Sen. Jorgenson is usually a person who doesn’t have a lot of friends . . . So I wouldn’t worry too much about what Sen. Jorgenson has to say.” Zing!

Labrador’s take on immigration seems to be pretty centrist: (paraphrased) enforce the laws and the borders, and work out some form of guest worker program that works for the nation’s economy and society and protects U.S. workers.

Centrist and totally defensible, yes, but not red meat in a Republican primary. Jorgenson or no, could this create a problem for him. Voters in that primary may be interested more in protest and culture war than in governance, a reality and a conflict Labrador may have touched off on Day 1 of the campaign.

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