Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador quietly ended months of speculation this morning, filing paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office indicating he will run for governor next year.
The decision adds to an already crowded gubernatorial race, and it's also sure to spark a rush of filings for Labrador's 1st Congressional District seat.
The four-term congressman was not immediately available for comment.
Although the 2018 filing period doesn't officially open until Feb. 26, Labrador submitted his C-1 form today, listing himself as candidate and Milford Terrell as his campaign treasurer. That allows him legally to begin campaigning, accepting donations and expending funds.
He is the fourth Republican to announce his candidacy in the race, joining Lt. Gov. Brad Little, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist. They're all seeking to replace three-term incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who has indicated he will not run for re-election.
During a recent interview, Labrador indicated he's been thinking about running for governor for the past few years, but set the decision aside to focus on the 2016 election cycle.
When Donald Trump won in November, he again postponed a decision about his own political future to focus on the administration's first 100 days in office. That timeline expired April 29.
Today's decision also comes less than a week after House Republicans voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. Although the move didn't win him any supporters during rowdy town hall meetings in Lewiston and Coeur d'Alene last week, Labrador noted that it makes good on the promises he and other Republicans have made over the years.
The health care vote was also consistent with his conservative views and desire to minimize government intrusions into the private lives of citizens – a perspective he will bring to the gubernatorial race.
In last month's interview, Labrador also noted that family would be a primary factor in his decision about the governor's race. His children range in age from 14 to 24, with the two youngest still in high school. From a political standpoint, the main consideration was how to best serve the people of Idaho.
“I didn't go to Washington to become a bureaucrat,” Labrador said at the time. “I went there to make a difference, and I believe I did. Now the issue is, where can I make a bigger difference?”
He'll have about a year to make his case to Republican voters. The 2018 primary takes place May 15.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's Lewiston Tribune. Text LMT to 87940 to receive breaking news messages.