Idaho politics: Again, Labrador shows his instinct and political savvy

Thursday was another busy day in the limelight for Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador.

After the 1st Congressional District Republican called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, the Los Angeles Times and the D.C. bureau of the Associated Press picked up on the angle for their stories on the Operation Fast and Furious fallout. Fox News also came calling for Labrador.

Not bad for a freshman lawmaker from Idaho? No. Pretty remarkable for a freshman lawmaker from Idaho.

And it shows that Labrador has the keenest political instinct of any elected official in Idaho. I’m not calling Labrador a natural. But he’s close.

For Labrador, representing a conservative 1st District, Fast and Furious is a batting-practice fastball. The gun-trafficking program, designed to infiltrate Mexican drug cartels, has become a crisis for the White House. Federal agents have lost track of some 1,400 weapons used in the program, according to a Hearst Newspapers report. Two of the weapons were found in December 2010, at a murder scene where a U.S border control agent was found dead.

Labrador isn’t the only Republican to question what Holder knew about the program, and when. But Labrador made news when he suggested Holder was “either lying or grossly incompetent,” and demanded his ouster.

The move may have little impact; on Thursday, President Obama stood by his man. But it once again positioned Labrador as a voice of the House GOP freshman class — a role he played during the summer’s debt-ceiling crisis, as a repeat guest on the Sunday morning network news shows.

Labrador has the knack for making news, no small gift in his chosen profession. And I gave short shrift to Labrador’s savvy during his improbable run to Congress in 2010.

During that election, the conventional wisdom held that Labrador was in the right place at the right time. There’s a lot of truth to this storyline. The underfunded Labrador benefitted when Vaughn Ward, the darling of the GOP establishment, ran an amateur-hour primary, and cashed in again when Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick doubled down on shrill negative campaign ads. It was easy — too easy — to write off Labrador as a fluke.

No. Labrador knows how to make the most of his political opportunities, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. With House Republicans in ascendance, Labrador is leveraging his moment.

Here again, Labrador is in the right place at the right time, unlike his immediate (and one-term) predecessors. Rep. Bill Sali was doomed to be a backbencher in a Democratic House, as a battered Bush presidency ran out the clock. Minnick was in the majority, but consistently tried to distance himself from Obama and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But here’s the thing. Sali was given to flakiness and abrasiveness. Minnick often was awkward as he tried to reconcile his centrist politics against his party’s tide. Unlike Sali, Labrador picks his battles wisely. Unlike Minnick, Labrador seems completely at ease. He believes in his positions, he enjoys the give-and-take with the media, and it shows.

Labrador may not be the most powerful member of the Idaho delegation. That honor may still go to 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, a longtime ally of House Speaker John Boehner and a Appropriations Committee member to boot. But Labrador may be the best politician in the bunch.

"....Fast and Furious.....has become a crisis....." Really?

By what measure? The gov't run media serves up softballs at the press conference, the White House spokesman acts like he doesn't know what everyone's talking about (same as Holder), and BHO stands by his AG and blames (fill in the blank here) for (fill in the blank here). Seems to me like the White House has everything under control. If this was a crisis -- it would be all over the front page of the Statesman -- uh, well, uh, let me re-phrase that.

It'd be nice to have a Congressman

who's good at something more than self-promotion.

Let's be real

What you meant to say is, "It would be nice to have a congressman who is a liberal." You never really have any bad things to say about liberals and democrats, or anything much good to say about conservatives. So let's keep it real.

Truth is hard to come by

actually, I've praised several of them

Ysursa, Wasden, Cameron, Gary Raney, to name a few

"stand by your man"

If I am not wrong "stand by your man" was a popular song...ONCE. Obama just has to be wrong to support such incompetence. Holder either knew or he should have known. In either case Labrador is correct in asking the AG to step down. This administration continues to support all kinds of "mistakes". When have we had enough?

oh please... Labrador is

oh please... Labrador is nothing more than an obstructionist politician.

Labradors congressional record is very clear, he has done nothing for America or Idahoans. Labrador is all about rendering the American government ineffective and unable to serve the citizens.

Labrador wants our country's democracy to fail........

Labrador is an elected official that consistently demonizes opponents and providing false witness against fellow Americans all for he purpose of his political party securing permanent power over our lives.

Labrador idea of freedom is an social conservative authoritarian governance that make your lives decision and removes free thought from existence.........

Mr.Labrador has a convenient memory with an opinion based fact existence, lets talks bout WIDE RECEIVER.......operation under Alberto Gonzalez and George Bush...........

Yes, a natural politician....

More concerned with making a statement and protecting his seat than getting anything done.
I didn't always agree with Labrador when he was in the Idaho legislature, but I did respect him. That respect is fading quickly.

He was right to call out

He was right to call out Holder on Fast and Furious; their hidden agenda required exposure! As to his political prowess, time will tell.
Sali was a bafoon and anyone connected to Polesi needed to go. Too bad she wasn't up for election, what a poor excuse of humanity.
I'm very concerned about out national debt and that fallout. $6 a loaf or a $6 per gal of gas will be catastrophic to our economy. That will be our true test of will power.

He Is Good At Getting Attention, No Doubt

I respect the guy. I don't agree with him on anything important, yet, but the dude does know how to get out in front. There's a difference between being a good politician & being a statesman. I hope he begins to grow into a statesman very soon.

But I don't underestimate him. He's no dummy.

If He Is So Good Then...

Why did he make that lame statement back in January about being a citizen and he had the birth certificate to prove it?
He wants to poison our water with mini-fracking. He has no plan for the disposal of nuclear waste and yet sees no problem with nuclear power. He has problems with the debt but shows no initiative with dialing back on his House expenditures. He is thinking only of his children when talking about the debt. He also thinks our food supply shouldn't have funding for regulations and yet there is a listeria outbreak among others. We have the best health care in the world and yet our life expectancy ranking in the world has dropped to 50th and the infant mortality ranking is 46th.
It would be nice to have someone who is not so concerned about ideology but is concerned with me, a constituent. What happened to "promote General Welfare" in the US Constitution?