GOP congressional race begins to take shape, splitting party's wings

The candidates vying to face freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick — state Rep. Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward, both of Eagle — are separating into camps representing the Idaho Republican Party's establishment and libertarian-conservative reform wings.

Ward made his official announcement at the Statehouse Tuesday afternoon and the crowd was loaded with GOP luminaries, including Dirk Kempthorne, a former governor, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of the Interior and Boise mayor.

Ward worked for Kempthorne in his 1992 Senate campaign and joined his Capitol Hill staff after graduating from Boise State University. Ward was a campaign staffer for Sen. John McCain's presidential effort in Nevada in 2008.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, State Board of Education Member Milford Terrell and Canyon County Prosecutor also shared the podium with Ward.

Among those attending in support of Ward were Eva Gay Yost, an influential party stalwart and aide to former GOP Gov. Phil Batt; Will Hart and Mike Tracy, former spokesmen for former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig; Phil Reberger, a top staffer to Kempthorne and former U.S. Sen. Steve Symms; Jerry Deckard, a former GOP lawmaker and Eagle mayor, now a lobbyist; and Brian Whitlock, a former Kempthorne chief of staff and now a lobbyist for the Idaho National Laboratory.

State Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, was there to watch Ward, saying, "I'm not endorsing, I'm intrigued by Vaughn. A lot of my friends up north are suggesting I listen to him closely because they relate to his message."

Anderson, a moderate, supported Gov. Butch Otter's effort to raise fuel taxes last year, while Rep. Raul Labrador, Ward's opponent, was among Otter's most outspoken critics.

"I will say this," continued Anderson, "I like Vaughn's message as opposed to Raul's message. I have some history with Raul's message. On solutions to real problems, he and I have had conflict."

Labrador was a key player in the 2008 defeat of Idaho GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan, who was replaced by Norm Semanko, who ran for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2006 and lost to Bill Sali, whom Minnick beat in 2008.

Ward, a native of Twin Falls, returned to Idaho in 2007 and considered running against Sali in the 2008 GOP primary. Sali is popular among supporters of former GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul and Labrador is counting on solid support from the group.

Jeffrey Laing, an Ada County precinct committeeman and former Libertarian candidate for the Legislature in California, said he's with Ward, despite Labrador's popularity among many of his friends.

"I'm getting a lot of pressure from the Ron Paul people to support Raul Labrador," said Laing, who carried a Vaughn Ward sign at the announcement. "But I'm not supporting Raul because Raul supported Mitt Romney (for president), and Mitt Romney is a big socialist."

Laing also said he preferred Ward's experience as a Marine, contrasted with Labrador's career as a lawyer. "He's an attorney. Need I say more? I'd rather support a vet than an attorney."

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such thoughtful reasons to vote for him...

He's not an attorney & Mitt Romney is a socialist. Is this really how people base their decisions?

A lot of people spent time watching "McSteamy" and "McDreamy"?

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

congressional race

First, let it be said that this article, coming from Popkey will get twisted to his liberal agenda! That being said, for a while I thought Minnick might turn out OK, even though I didn't vote for him! However, since elected, he's just like Yobama, a lot of show boating, with no real care for the average voter! He needs some viable competition in the upcoming election, but I still have to see if there is any quality out there! We sure don't need any more Rammels running for anything!

As a constituent, I have had a lot of contact with Minnick

and found him to be more responsive than any other member of the delegation and very concerned about how some proposals would impact people in Idaho. I have found Labrador to me much less responsive and much more ideological. He's a nice enough guy, but I not very impressed.
Haven't met Ward yet or seen much in the way of content, so I'll have to wait and see.

There ain't a nickle's worth

There ain't a nickle's worth of difference in all three.

I take it you sell gasoline and it's 4 9/10 cents.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

Ward & Minnick

Vaughn Ward led the charge for McCain in Nevada and got his tail kicked. Ward refused to answer written questions in the vetting process because they would have painted the golden boy as a progressive. Ward flat out lied about answering said questions.

Minnick said to me and about 70 others, twice: "It is not my job to determine if a bill is Constitutional, that is what the courts are for". This is a man who takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but apparently never took a civics class.

Labrador has a proven track record and is right for Idaho.

Ward is a carpetbagger

Hey Popkey- Ask Vaughn Ward why he OWNS a house in Virginia and RENTS a house in Eagle. He came back to Idaho to get elected to Congress and then move away again. Not really in Idaho's best interest. He also currently has no job, and hasn't had a job since 2008. And in a time when the economy is the most important issue, Ward is a guy that doesn't understand the economy, because he has never worked in the private sector. While I respect his military service, the rest of his adult life has been spent working in DC, bouncing from one Government job to another.

Not impressed. And neither are people I talk to. Thank goodness Labrador got in the race.

Please don't tell me people in CD-1 are swayed by this guy

Ward is a Manchurian candidate. He is being supported by the same moderate Republicans who voted like Democrats (e.g., Hurricane Katrina funding, Medicare prescription drug benefit, SCHIP, etc.) and lost the majority in 2006. When Ward speaks, he caters to the real conservatives, but he is a clear phony. How noble of him that he moved back to Idaho to run for Congress (sarcasm intended).

Ward has never run for political office, but has the same "trust me" attitude as the current Commander in Chief. If you want to know how he'd vote in Congress, look at who Ward's hanging out with.

Interesting that Laing is supporting a guy that pounded the pavement for the worst GOP presidential candidate in more than 50 years (possibly ever), yet he criticizes Labrador for supporting Romney. Little does he know it, but Laing is supporting a guy who has no job versus a guy who is gainfully employed and paying taxes in Idaho.

This won't last ...

The huge anti-immigrant fervor of the far right will eventually collide with Labrador's embrace and defense of illegal aliens as an immigration attorney. Really, I don't know how Labrador himself deals with the inherent contradictions, or how he's gotten away with it for this long. I would love for Popkey to tease this out just because it would be fascinating to understand.

The whole far-right Libertarian cause will implode when the big-government Libertarians (who want strict-as-Islam-based regulation of anything related to the genitals and personal behavior - Libertarians In Name Only) runs head-on into the old school small-government Libertarians, a dying breed who lost their brand identity to the LINOS and really want government to butt out of everything.

The "God, Guns and Genitals" wing of the Far Right, along with its anti-business agenda, has its own conflicts that will fracture it, and quickly. They only hold together when they can find the common enemy of a "socialist" under every rock, behind every tree, and behind the counter of every business. They will turn on each other soon enough because they always need something or someone to hate.

Oh, excuse me, does saying the above make me a socialist?

Is there a Willie Horton in the house?

Following up to the above, it would be useful to do a routine public records check on some of Labrador's clients. All court filings are public records. Have any of them gone on to commit serious crimes after he helped them stay in the US? Have any of them gone on to develop a cure for cancer, or become nuclear physicists or firemen? I'm not saying one way or the other. I am saying that a good review of what is publicly available would be a public service by revealing truth.

If I were on Ward's campaign, I'd be digging and digging. Anyone running for public office should expect, welcome and facilitate such investigation of their public career. Really, this should have been done long ago.

Dig your way to China. Maybe they'll recycle you. NEXT!

Like a midair collision with a tugboat