Former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador defeated former state superintendent Tom Luna in a narrow race for state Republican Party chairman.
The 111-109 vote showed Republicans are “divided and united,” Labrador said after Saturday’s vote.
Labrador takes the helm heading into the 2020 elections, when all 105 legislative seats will be up for grabs. The GOP controls 80 percent of seats in both the House and the Senate — but if the past is any indication, the May 2020 GOP primary could feature a spate of contested legislative primaries.
Republicans also will seek to defend three seats in Congress: U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Russell Fulcher are expected to seek re-election.
Himself the runner-up in a contentious GOP gubernatorial primary in 2018, Labrador alluded to this nomination process Saturday.
“Let’s go ahead and fight when we have these internal battles. Let’s go ahead and fight in our primaries,” said Labrador, according to Michael Katz of the Idaho Statesman. “But when the decision is made, let’s stand together as a party. Let’s stand united and let’s do the things that are necessary to defeat the real enemy, which is the bad ideas of the other side.”
Luna also spoke on party unity.
“This isn’t about me. This isn’t about my political future. This is about the future of our party,” he said, according to the Statesman. “We can’t take our eye off the ball.”
Labrador succeeds Jonathan Parker, who resigned in February and now faces a felony charge of stalking.
More coverage from Saturday’s meeting from Nathan Brown of the Post Register.