The campaign for Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick wasted no time in launching attacks against state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who won the Republican nomination after the primary election Tuesday. In an e-mail to the media, John Foster, Minnick's campaign spokesman, said that Minnick's work in Congress aligns with the values of everyday Idahoans. Foster also faulted Labrador for having a "combative personality" during his time in the Idaho House of Representatives.
Following Labrador's win, Foster released this statement to the local media:
Idaho voters know Walt Minnick as a businessman, a veteran and gun owner, and they appreciate his long record of effective work for Idaho families, seniors and veterans. Raul Labrador's reputation as a combative politician and his troubling rhetoric on key issues -- such as his votes against Idaho veterans -- make us confident that folks will re-elect Walt in November.
In the message, Foster did not explain which votes of Labrador's could be construed as votes against Idaho veterans. In a later e-mail to IdahoReporter.com, Foster said that two votes during Labrador's tenure in the Idaho House had troubling implications for veterans. One came in 2009, when Labrador opposed a plan to give close relatives of members of the armed services special licenses plates without the usual extra fees attached.
The other vote came early this year in the 2010 legislative session. A bill proposed by a state legislator in north Idaho redefined how vacancies for publicly-elected officials occur. Though the focal point of the legislation centered on a missing city councilman from Idaho who was found deceased after several weeks of searches by local authorities, the measure also contained a provision which removed military duty as a means of office revocation, thereby allowing those in the military to retain their offices through deployments
Labrador may have received some flak for having a combative personality due to past conflicts within the Idaho Republican Party. In a previous debate with his primary challenger Vaughn Ward, Labrador said that his ability to stand up to his party's leadership is why Idahoans should send him to Congress. Party insiders say that a few years ago, Labrador was instrumental in ousting former state Republican Party Chairman Kirk Sullivan, who had the backing of Gov. Butch Otter, in favor of the more conservative Norm Semanko. "With me ... I am willing to stand up, even against my own party, if I think the things my party is doing are not correct," Labrador said at the Idaho Public Television debate on May 12 at the Capitol in Boise. Labrador also touted his opposition to Otter's 2009 plan to raise gas taxes in Idaho as evidence that he will represent Idahoans well in Congress.
Labrador spokesman Dennis Mansifeld has yet to respond to Foster's charges. Minnick and Labrador are set to square off in the general election on Nov. 2.