The Idaho Republican Party is pulling out all the stops to help its congressional nominee, Raul Labrador, defeat Democrat Walt Minnick in Idaho's 1st District in Novembers. The party has coordinated with the Republican National Committee to bring additional resources and money to the area to aid in campaign efforts, and has said several times that Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho's senior man in the U.S. Senate, will be critical for the congressional race. In an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com, the executive director of the party says Sen. Jim Risch will have a role to play in the Labrador campaign as well.
In a message to Republicans a week ago, GOP chairman Norm Semanko singled out Crapo, but not Risch, and praised him for his work. "We also want to acknowledge and thank U.S. Senator Mike Crapo for helping make our Idaho Victory Operations possible," said Semanko. "His support played a key role."
Johnathan Parker, executive director for the party, says that Risch is crucial, too. "Crapo and Risch are both stalwart supporters of the Idaho Republican Party," said Parker. "Both Crapo and Risch will be instrumental in helping elect all Republicans in Idaho, including helping elect Labrador in his efforts to unseat Democrat Walt Minnick." Parker did not specify exactly what role either man would play in campaign operations. He did say, however, that because Crapo is up for election this fall, he will play a more active role in campaign events across the state. “You will start seeing Risch take a more active role once we get closer to November,” Parker said.
Risch, and Idaho's 2nd District congressman, Rep. Mike Simpson, teamed up with Crapo Thursday in Washington, D.C., for a breakfast fundraiser for the Labrador campaign. Labrador said that his grateful for the support of the Republican pieces of Idaho's congressional delegation. "I deeply appreciate the help and encouragement from these gentlemen,” Labrador said. “It will be a real honor to join them in the battle to defend Idaho values in Washington.”
Labrador's willingness to buck party leadership has lead to clashes with other GOP figureheads - one in particular - in recent years. At the party's 2008 state convention, Labrador helped remove then-GOP chairman Kirk Sullivan from his post and install Semanko in his place. Sullivan had the backing of Gov. Butch Otter. Then in 2009, Otter attempted to raise the state's gas tax rate by a penny, a move thwarted by Labrador.
Some attending the party's 2010 confab wondered if there is still bad blood between Labrador and Otter when the governor removed a mention of the congressional candidate from a speech given to delegates. Otter said he simply forgot to bring Labrador on stage and that there is no friction between the two. Crapo, Risch, and Simpson all encouraged delegates and onlookers at the convention to fall in behind Labrador's campaign in separate individuals speeches at the convention.