It’s not a great year to be a Republican member of the U.S. Congress. If you’re staying on, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be facing a credible Democratic challenge in the midterm elections later this year. Some Republicans — like Idaho’s Raul Labrador — have decided to abandon Congress altogether.
Labrador did so in order to run in the Republican primary race to become his state’s governor, but this week, he lost to the state’s current lieutenant governor, Brad Little. With most precincts in the state reporting, Little won by a margin of about five percent, or about 9,000 votes.
Labrador finished about 12,000 votes ahead of the third place finisher in the GOP gubernatorial primary; businessman Tommy Ahlquist finished with about 26 percent of the vote.
In the general election later this year, Little will be going up against Democratic state Representative Paulette Jordan, who if elected, will become the first female governor of Idaho and the first Native American governor of any state.
Idaho is a generally Republican-leaning state; Donald Trump won there by a margin of more than 30 percent in the 2016 presidential race. Even still, these days the strength lent to the GOP by that margin should be considered slashed. An about 20 percent margin of victory for Donald Trump in a certain Congressional district in Pennsylvania didn’t keep Democrat Conor Lamb from winning a special election there earlier this year.
Possibly joining Lamb in Congress next year and replacing Labrador will be Russ Fulcher, who finished with about 43 percent of the vote in the excessively crowded race to fill the failed gubernatorial hopeful’s old seat. Fulcher had originally announced a run for Idaho governor, but after Labrador announced his own plans to run for the seat, Fulcher changed his aims.
Fulcher credited the strength of his gubernatorial bid as helping him score a win in the Congressional race, saying:
‘The friendships and the relationships were in place. I’m deeply honored people remembered me. I’m not going to let them down.’
The race to fill Labrador’s old seat was crowded, with six other candidates. Even still, the closest contender behind Fulcher — former attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy — finished with only about 15.6 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times.
On the Democratic side, Christina McNeil won the Democratic primary race to fill Labrador’s old seat, although the total number of votes she received is less than half the amount that Fulcher did.
She no doubt hopes to ride a strong wave of anti-GOP sentiment to victory this fall; that wave has already claimed five GOP Congressional members’ positions, with Labrador the fourth Republican to aim for statewide office this year and fail.
A host of other GOP members of Congress — including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan himself — have announced a full fledged exit from government or are facing serious challenges from the Democrats.
The president’s divisive campaigns of racism, sexism, and the like aren’t paying off for Republican members of Congress after all.
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