State Rep. Raul Labrador outlined several campaign themes but didn't offer policy specifics in his first speech in his race for Congress next year. Labrador, R-Eagle, said he will fight to increase liberty, freedom, and jobs if he wins the primary and general elections in Idaho's First Congressional District next year.
"Jobs and the economy: that's the number one issue that's facing every Idahoan," Labrador said.
Labrador labeled himself a proven conservative in his remarks, while calling current Congressman Walt Minnick a follower of Democratic leaders. He said Minnick and Republican challenger Vaughn Ward are getting most of their campaign contributions from outside Idaho, though he admitted to trailing both in the fundraising race.
"I started a little bit late, so I am running behind," Labrador said. He said he has fundraising goals for the end of the year and the first three months of 2010, but isn't releasing those numbers. Minnick had over $600,000 in campaign cash on hand at the end of September, while Ward had close to $180,000, according to OpenSecrets.org. All candidates for Congress will have to disclose their year-end fundraising numbers in early 2010.
Labrador said he will also work to lower taxes and come up with workable immigration reforms. He called himself an immigration expert, and laid out a three-part plan for reform that includes increasing the number of officials monitoring national borders and creating a new guest-worker policy. Labrador's position and work on immigration are receiving criticism from other Idaho Republicans. State Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, issued a press release on Monday saying Labrador should quit the race because of his stance on immigration. (Read most of Jorgenson's press release at Coeur d'Alene Press.)
Labrador rejected Jorgenson's critique. "Senator Jorgenson is usually a person who doesn't have a lot of friends," Labrador said.
Idaho's first district hugs the state's western border, covering most of northern Idaho and the western suburbs of Boise. Minnick, a businessman and lawyer, won the district in last year's presidential election. Labrador didn't mention Minnick or Ward, an Iraq war veteran, by name in his first stump speech. On his Twitter feed, Labrador did critique a recent vote by Minnick on the federal estate tax.
Hear Labrador's speech (audio only):
Hear most of the question and answer session that followed Labrador's speech (audio only, with a few edits for clarity):