News Column

Raul Labrador Can't Control Convention

June 17, 2014

Kevin Daley, Political Correspondent

Rep. Raul Labrador, the Idaho Republican running for House majority leader, presided over chaos at this weekend's state GOP convention in Moscow, which abruptly adjourned Saturday after he failed to broker an agreement between the party's warring factions.

The inter-party sparring stems from the state's May 20 primary elections, which saw Establishment Republicans beat back Tea Party challengers in races across the state. Though defeated at the ballot box, tea party-aligned delegates mirrored tactics previously employed by Idaho supporters of former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, and stacked the convention's credentials committee with supporters.

The committee dismissed nearly 20 percent of the delegation on Friday, sparking a contentious floor fight the next day that led to the convention ending in chaos with its business left unfinished.

"This is as low as a party can go," Labrador told the Associated Press. "We have hit bottom."

This was not a good sign for Labrador, who on Friday launched an insurgent campaign for House majority leader. By returning to Idaho for the weekend, Labrador lost critical time to whip support for his long shot bid to replace Eric Cantor, R-Va., whose stunning primary loss Tuesday spurred the leadership race.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the favorite to succeed Cantor, began phoning House Republicans early Wednesday, leveraging personal relationships and a large fundraising apparatus to lock down the 118 votes needed to win.

The convention also undermines confidence Labrador can effectively manage the unruly House Republican conference. "The whole convention was a travesty" said Twin Falls county delegate Grant Loebs. "And that adjournment vote was a mercy killing."

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Original headline: Raul Labrador presides over chaos at Idaho GOP convention


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