The race between state Rep. Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward, a Marine reservist, has heated up during the past two weeks as each candidate looked to score political points as primary election day, May 25, nears. The two will have a chance to take jabs at one another Tuesday night as Idaho Public Television airs a debate between the two men from the Capitol in Boise.
The forum is likely to become contentious as each man tries to convince voters that he is the right choice for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. Both men continue to spar over illegal immigration, an issue which, despite high unemployment, two wars currently in progress, and a ballooning national debt, has become the pivotal issue of the race. One week ago, Labrador, an immigration attorney, called on Obama to send military troops to the southern border of the U.S. to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants. Labrador also claimed that because of his work as an immigration attorney, he is an expert on the matter and someone who will take the knowledge to Washington, D.C., to solve the country’s immigration woes.
Ward held his own press conference on immigration Monday in Caldwell, and said that the U.S. must use a three-pronged approach to solving immigration. The first step is to secure the borders, then enforce current laws on immigration, and then deny amnesty to those in the country illegally, Ward said. He also jabbed Labrador over his profession. “Experts in immigration law are fighting to keep the illegal aliens here, and since the federal government is not aggressive enough at our borders, the immigration lawyers and illegal aliens are winning the battle,” said Ward. Labrador, born in Puerto Rico, has suggested that the Ward camp has used his ethnic heritage in a whisper campaign against him, a charge which Ward spokesman Ryan O’Barto calls outlandish and without merit.
The debate is set for 8 Mountain Time/7 Pacific Time. Viewers can tune in to Idaho Public Television to watch it live or they can watch it later on the station’s website. The debate for Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District debate took place on Sunday and featured Republican incumbent Mike Simpson, running for his seventh term and his two challengers, state Rep. Russ Mathews, R-Idaho Falls, and Chick Heileson. Read the story on that forum here.