Putting an end to speculation, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador announced Wednesday he intends to seek re-election in Congress and will not run for governor next year.
Labrador, a Republican, did not rule out a future run for governor, but said he thinks he can be most effective in Congress right now.
For much of this year rumors circulated about whether Labrador would challenge Gov. Butch Otter and set up a high-profile Republican primary election in the spring.
Labrador said he considered making a run after being approached by supporters, but “never really thought about it seriously.”
With his wife in attendance at his press conference at Meridian City Hall, Labrador admitted he “hates” being away from his family and life in Washington D.C.
But Labrador said running for governor also would have prevented him from spending time with loved ones.
Still, Labrador said he thought he would have done an excellent job as governor.
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“Butch Otter could do a better job, and I don’t think I’ve been shy about saying what I think,” Labrador said. “Hopefully, with the help of (legislative) leadership they could do better.”
Labrador said his formal re-election announcement will follow at a time when he can be joined by his supporters. He described Wednesday’s 15-minute appearance in front of reporters as simply a way to end speculation.
Otter has said he intends to seek re-election next year, and recently hired Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry vice president Jayson Ronk to serve as his campaign manager.
While Otter vs. Labrador would have been the political equivalent of a heavyweight prize fight, the list of potential candidates is growing.
Former Canyon County prosecutor John Bujak announced on his website that he is exploring a gubernatorial run.
He writes: “We are being lied to and manipulated by our elected officials in order to maintain a status quo that serves the interests of career politicians and big business at our expense. It’s time for Idahoans to have a better choice than politics as usual.”
Bujak resigned as Canyon County prosecutor in 2010 amid accusations of misuse of public funds. The Associated Press reports a jury found Bujak not guilty of those charges in 2012. He did plead guilty to a lesser contempt of court charge this year.
Near the bottom of Bujak’s website, he wrote that he will announce his formal candidacy in March “If there are enough Idahoans that believe the way I do…”