Republican Rep. Raul Labrador says he's waiting to measure the prospects of reforming immigration law in Congress before determining whether to shift gears and run for governor in 2014. GOP Gov. Butch Otter has said he is running for a third term, but has made no formal announcement.
"Right now, my number one priority is doing something about immigration," Labrador told me Friday. "And it will help me -- seeing how things are in Washington. Whether we can get something done or not is going to be instrumental in helping me make my decision. It's going to be one of the keys.
"And I know people don't believe me -- they think I've already made a decision -- but it's not something I wake up every morning and think about. I know other people do, for some reason."
Otter's campaign website is on hiatus and some doubt whether he'll actually seek a third term; Otter will be 72 during the 2014 campaign. Lt. Gov. Brad Little is seen as the front-runner should Otter retire, but Labrador could be a strong challenger from the GOP's tea party wing in a closed GOP primary in May 2014.
Said Labrador, "I hope that have a decision by early this year."
Some observers viewed Labrador's leadership of a group that sought to oust House Speaker John Boehner as a sign that he wanted out of Washington and to return to his young family in Eagle. Labrador not only helped lead the unsuccessful coup, but pointedly refused to cast a ballot on Jan. 3. His senior Idaho colleague, Rep. Mike Simpson, blasted Labrador, saying he'd forever compromised his credibility in the House, as I reported Sunday.
Labrador disputed the theory that he'd burned his bridge with Boehner and that was a signal he'll run for governor.
"Number one, I haven't burnt my bridge, so the premise is flawed," Labrador said. "But number two, I haven't made a decision. I think I have important work to do in Washington, D.C., with immigration. And it is one of the reasons I did what I did (in opposing Boehner). If we continue to capitulate on taxes, on spending, on all the issues that are important to the Republican Party, we're never going to be effective in reforming the immigration system. I don't want to be a legislator who's there for 14 years and hasn't done anything."
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