State Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, has picked up an endorsement from Tea Party Boise Inc. (TPB), the group behind the last two Tax Day rallies held in Boise in the past two years. This is the first endorsement for the group, which has previously said that it is non-partisan.
In a statement on the Tea Party Boise website, the group says that Labrador, facing Marine reservist Vaughn Ward in the May 25 Republican primary election, has "real world" experience that will help him overtake Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick in November's general election. In the announcement, the group paired policy positions of Labrador and Ward side-by-side to show ideological contrasts between the two men. Among the issues presented, Labrador received approval for his stances on banning earmarks, the repeal of the 17th Amendment, withdrawal from the United Nations, and reform of the nation's current tax structure.
Labrador did not receive perfect marks on the score sheet, however. The group did not approve of his stance on term limits, which he opposes. Labrador told IdahoReporter.com in previous interviews that he believes that the electorate should decide how long congressmen serve. Ward did receive one approving mark from TPB. The group approved of his stance on term limits. Ward believes that representatives should be limited to six terms in office and senators two - both of which would total 12 years. None of Ward's other policy positions agreed with those of TPB.
Labrador received TPB approval on a category titled “Who is most vested in our Idaho issues?" The group gave Labrador the nod due to his experience in the Idaho Legislature, where he served two terms. "TPB puts a lot of stock in Idaho ‘real world’ experience and a consistent record of defending conservative values. Head to head with Ward, Labrador has a more proven conservative track record and has shown him to be very capable of standing up to his own party when they are wrong on issues. He will hold the GOP more accountable on issues important to TPB," said the group in the chart.
The group offered more praise for Labrador’s record and experience in its reasoning for picking him over Ward:
We feel there is a clear choice in the Republican Primary race, between Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador. While both are vocally conservative in their positions, Labrador clearly has more experience and more consistent alignment with the positions taken by TPB and our membership. He is also a strong, consistent conservative, willing to challenge his own party in Idaho on issues that we share. His long-time residency in Idaho and service in the State Legislature has better prepared him to serve his constituents well.
The group, earlier in the year, chided the Tea Party Express, a national Tea Party group, which endorsed Minnick earlier in the year. "The Tea Party Express would be well advised to talk to those in Idaho who cast votes," TPB said on its website. Minnick was the only Democrat to be backed by the national group and was joined by several Republicans, including Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, in receiving support from Tea Party Express.
Labrador and Ward are set to debate Sunday night on a television station in Boise. They will also go head-to-head in a forum in Post Falls Tuesday night. Tea Party Boise has not endorsed a candidate in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.