Labrador's exit speech

Former U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador was defeated in a 2018 primary contest for governor. He’s now running for chairman of the state Republican party.

BOISE — Former U.S. Congressman and Idaho state representative Raúl Labrador is running for chairman of the state Republican party.

Labrador confirmed his candidacy, first reported by the Idaho Statesman, in an email sent to the Idaho Press Tuesday evening.

In an email sent to the Republican central committee, forwarded to the Idaho Press, Labrador said that if elected as chairman, his top priorities will be “to unify and strengthen the Idaho Republican Party for the coming years and to help President Trump get re-elected in 2020.”

“With this backdrop, it is obvious there has never been a more important time for the Republican Party than now — to stand firm — to unite — to have strong leadership — in the United States and Idaho,” Labrador wrote in the email.

Labrador lost last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary to now Gov. Brad Little. Prior to that, he served as a congressman for eight years and state representative for four years. He’s also a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Idaho’s 1st District is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher, a Republican who used to represent Meridian and Kuna in the state Senate, succeeding Labrador, who didn’t run for another term in Congress so he could run for governor.

“You have seen the daily attacks on the values that make America great. And you have watched — and I saw first-hand during my time in Washington — the unjust attacks on our duly-elected President,” Labrador wrote. “It appears the very highest governmental forces were unleashed to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s electoral victory.”

Among the reasons listed, which include his consistent pro-life record and his belief that the U.S. must secure its borders, he also included that he’s a “strong conservative who loves liberty and has a track record of defending it.”

The state’s former superintendent of public instruction, Tom Luna, is also running for chairman, the Post Register reported.

“I’ve always been very passionate about the Republican Party and the values that it represents, and the good that those values bring to families and communities, (and) the state and the country,” Luna told the Post Register.

Kootenai County’s Jennifer Locke has been the state GOP’s acting chairwoman since former Chairman Jonathan Parker resigned in February. Parker has been arrested twice since May on accusations of stalking and trespassing.

The state GOP central committee is slated to pick another chairman at its summer meeting in Boise on June 28-29, with the chairman vote set for June 29.

Post Register reporter Nathan Brown contributed to this report.

Savannah Cardon is the Caldwell reporter for the Idaho Press. Follow her on Twitter, @savannahlcardon, or reach her at 208-465-8172.

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