Idaho Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick has won the endorsement of the Idaho Associated General Contractors (AGC), a group that has recently backed Republicans in statewide elections. Minnick’s Republican challenger, state Rep. Raul Labrador of Eagle, said the group is focused on its own interests, not those of all Idaho residents.
The Idaho AGC and its national political arm, the Associated General Contractors of America Political Action Committee, has endorsed and financially supported several Republicans that represented Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in Congress, including now-Gov. Butch Otter, the late Helen Chenoweth, and Bill Sali, who Minnick defeated in 2008. The national group has also made contributions to Idaho’s three Republicans currently in Congress, Rep. Mike Simpson and Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
AGC leaders said they chose Minnick over Labrador for several reasons. AGC Board President Burke Hansen said Minnick has served Idaho businesses well.
Hansen also said the Minnick’s stances against new federal health care laws and in favor of reauthorizing federal highway funding aligned with the AGC’s views.
Unlike Minnick, AGC supported the 2009 stimulus plan, because it would provide work for contractors in Idaho. Hansen said the group didn’t pick Labrador in part because of his opposition to Otter’s proposal to increase transportation spending by raising the gas tax and vehicle fees. That program would have also meant more money for contractors.
AGC Executive Director Mark Dunham said the association makes endorsement based on the candidates running, not their party affiliation. He said Minnick has been proactive in finding solutions and proved that he deserves AGC’s support.
Labrador said AGC pick of Minnick shows that it isn’t concerned about the best interests of the U.S. “The endorsement made by the Associated General Contractors today shows that they are in favor of raising taxes to fund the liberal spending policies of Minnick and his Democrat friends, even in the middle of a recession,” Labrador said in a news release. “I am not only against that, but I will fight for the interests of Idahoans.”
Minnick said he was flattered to receive the group’s endorsement.
Minnick said he will work to try to increase Idaho's sagging construction market. “The problem with jobs in America isn’t a partisan issue—it’s a problem for everybody,” he told IdahoReporter.com.
Minnick said he supports finding more money to maintain state roads, though didn’t endorse any specific plan, such as raising the state gas tax. “It’s a critical problem that needs to be dealt with,” he said. “How the Legislature and the governor choose to deal with it is up to them.” He said the state needs to spend $200 million on road maintenance annually. That’s higher than an estimate from Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor, but more in line with Gov. Butch Otter’s projections.