State Senator Mike Jorgenson, a Republican from Hayden Lake, on Tuesday called on State Rep. Raul Labrador to withdraw from the 1st Congressional District race .
Labrador, a two-term Republican from Eagle, entered the race on Monday. The same day, Jorgenson fired off a press release questioning Labrador’s view on immigration. The state senator accused Labrador of “defending illegal immigrants in his law practice” and defending “individuals who have smuggled people illegal immigrants into the United States.” Jorgenson said he believes Labrador’s views just aren’t right for Idaho and that if elected, Labrador “will act against the will of the citizens of Idaho.”
Labrador voted in 2007 against Idaho Senate Bill 1157, legislation that requires individuals to prove “lawful presence in the United States of natural persons in order to receive public benefits.” Labrador said he voted no because federal law already prohibits public benefits from going to illegal immigrants. The same year, Labrador voted for Senate Bill 1172, a proposal that made English the official language of the Idaho state government.
When asked about the charges from Jorgenson during the press conference announcing his candidacy, Labrador said, “Senator Jorgenson is somebody who is known as not having many friends in the Senate, so I wouldn’t worry about him.”
The race for Idaho’s 1st Congressional Seat has been contentious in the past few years. Labrador is the third person in the race, joining incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick and fellow GOP challenger Vaughn Ward.
Minnick was able to capture the seat from the GOP in 2008 by defeating Republican Bill Sali in a hotly contested race that was decided by a few thousand votes. Sali was won the seat in 2006 after winning a six-way GOP primary in which he received 26% of the total vote. Sali went on to defeat Democrat Larry Grant in the general election.
Ward, a former Marine and campaign worker for the McCain/Palin presidential campaign, issued no direct statement about the flap between Jorgenson and Labrador. Ryan O’Barto, Ward’s campaign manager, issued a statement on behalf of the campaign about Labrador’s entrance into the race, saying that they “welcome Raul to the race and look forward to discussing the issues that are important to Idahoans.” O’Barto also wrote that Ward “is the only candidate in this race who will go to Congress and vote against giving taxpayer funded benefits to illegal immigrants.”
Jonathan Parker, the Executive Director for the Idaho Republican Party, said the party won’t get involved in the fight, but will encourage candidates “to keep it clean.”