A Tale of Three Headlines

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When Raul Labrador decided to challenge John Boehner’s re-election as Speaker, he effectively eliminated any influence he might have hoped to have representing Idaho in Congress. Of course, Labrador is just one more in a long line of Idaho Congressmen whose behavior so marginalized them that they were pretty much impotent. As I stated after his vote against the fiscal cliff legislation, Labrador has been neutered.

What does this mean for Labrador’s political career? Well, three headlines this week tell the story.  First, this headline from “The Hill”.

Boehner defector Rep. Labrador won’t talk about his vote for Speaker  

The second-term lawmaker told The Hill he’s “not talking to the press” on his rationale behind not voting. He was among 12 House Republicans who didn’t back Boehner.

The Tea Party favorite, who also refused to comment when The Hill asked him right after the early January vote, said he hopes his pointed refusal to discuss the Speaker votes would help him smooth things over with GOP leaders.

“John Boehner is my Speaker at this point and I want him to be successful,” he said. “One of the reasons I did what I did is I want my party to be successful, strong and do what we were elected to do. This is absolutely one issue where we’ll work together.”

Unfortunately for Labrador, his “no comment” came a little too late. The senior Idaho Congressman from Idaho, Mike Simpson, did a have a comment, and it wasn’t favorable to Labrador. In what the Idaho Statesman called a “rare public feud” between Idaho Congressmen, Simpson called Labrador’s vote against Boehner “irresponsible”. The headline in the Statesman read,

Mike Simpson rips Raul Labrador for trying to oust Boehner as Speaker

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson says fellow Republican Rep. Raul Labrador has forever undermined his effectiveness with an “irresponsible” role in plotting to defeat GOP House Speaker John Boehner.

“I think there are 15 or 16 members of our conference that have substantially lost credibility,” said Simpson, one of Boehner’s closest friends in the House.

Labrador was one of three leaders among conservatives upset with Boehner, R-Ohio, for making the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff deal. The dissidents tried to muster enough Republican votes to slow down or stop re-election of Boehner as speaker. They called off their plan a half-hour before the Jan. 3 vote.

Customarily, combatants put aside their differences once the majority picks a leader behind closed doors, joining their party mates for a unanimous public vote on the House floor.

But Labrador let his disloyalty be known publicly as one of 12 Republicans who either didn’t vote for Boehner or didn’t vote at all. Labrador twice ignored the clerk calling his name — and even received one vote to be speaker from fellow ringleader Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.

“He just didn’t vote,” Simpson said, shaking his head in anger. “Which, as anyone who’s ever been in a legislative body will tell you, you got one thing going for you and that’s your credibility. And once you lose that credibility it’s gone and it’s gone forever.”

Wow! Labrador’s credibility is gone forever!  That sounds like Labrador’s political career is over, but not so fast. His credibility in Washington may be gone, but to his Tea Party constituents back in Idaho, he has just reinforced their belief that he is a man of principle. Which leads us to the last headline.

Labrador mulling race for Idaho governor, but insists he’s not decided

Hmmm- that is exactly what an ineffectual Idaho Congressman did eight years ago. Yes, Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter’s career path took him to the Governorship after two terms as an ineffectual Congressman who initiated zero legislation.

Otter will be 72 when his second term is over and it is likely that he will not run again. Thus, the door is open for Labrador.

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