House editorial: Labrador’s no leader

Dear Republican House member:

You received a letter Monday from Congressman Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, telling you why he should succeed Eric Cantor as majority leader.

Today, we’d like to tell you why he should not.

“The simple fact is, Republicans will never again unite the country until we first unite our party,” Labrador wrote.

That’s true. It’s true also that Labrador has built a political career on tearing down and not building up, on dividing rather than uniting.

Labrador first gained notoriety in the Idaho Legislature by opposing the Republican governor’s effort to pass desperately needed infrastructure investments.

You’ve seen this in Washington, D.C., as well. Whether he’s leading a coup against the House Speaker, openly feuding with Congressman Mike Simpson or bailing on a bipartisan immigration reform group, Labrador has shown no inclination to work with those who hold different opinions.

And really, isn’t that what leadership is? Don’t you want a majority leader who can find common ground among tea partiers and moderates while working with Democrats? Do you not believe that from many disparate voices are borne the best solutions?

Our experience with Labrador is it’s his way or no way. The people of Idaho’s Second Congressional District rely heavily on federal investments. Idaho National Laboratory drives the economy. The Farm Bill is vital to growers. Payments in lieu of taxes help small, rural counties make up for the loss of timber receipts.

Labrador’s votes to gut INL funding and desire to continue the federal government shutdown showed a blatant disregard for southeast Idaho, the state economy and the nation, which needs to add to its nuclear energy portfolio and not reduce it. His votes against the Farm Bill, PILT payments and even veteran’s benefits show a man more enamored with his Club for Growth ranking than the good of folks living in his state.

Finally, allow us to present the most recent evidence that Labrador should remain on the back benches: last weekend’s GOP State Convention.

Labrador chaired a gathering themed “Freedom and Unity” that ended in splinters. No platform passed. No chairman elected. Entire county delegations disqualified. Labrador’s convention resulted in Republicans so divided Democrats may actually have electoral hope in this reddest of states.

Yes, we will acknowledge that Labrador has charisma and guts. He may, on the surface, seem like just the man to shake up your caucus.

We urge you to look deeper. Within the hard right echo chamber, Labrador is influential. That group does not, however, include a majority of Idahoans, who have learned the hard way what you should remember when you vote tomorrow: Raul Labrador isn’t a leader. He’s a bomb thrower. Your conference, and this country, deserve better.

Corey Taule