If you didn’t have doubts about former Congressman Raul Labrador’s capacity to serve as Idaho’s attorney general before the House Jan. 6 Committee convened its televised hearings, you should have a bunch of them now.
That panel has exposed the fallacy behind one of the dominant themes of Labrador’s successful GOP primary campaign against incumbent Lawrence Wasden — the so-called “big lie” that former President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election.
If this were just another Republican acolyte of the former president pandering to the MAGA base of the GOP to win a garden variety political office, you could sleep at night.
Unfortunately, the state’s chief legal office is up for grabs — and Labrador is about to claim this position by default. That is, unless Idaho Democrats get off their collective rear ends and offer the voters of the Gem State a real choice.
No one will confuse Labrador — a hyper partisan founding member of the House Freedom Caucus — with the “balls and strikes” style of the man he ousted. But only one week after Labrador’s pledge to put politics first and the law second won the day in the May 17 closed GOP primary election, his legal judgment has come under renewed scrutiny:
l Released last month was the text Labrador sent to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at 3:57 p.m. on Jan. 6, urging him to “get Trump to say something to calm down the people.” But Labrador also included this: “I believed in Trump and I would probably object to the certification today.”
In other words, Labrador would have joined his successor, Rep. Russ Fulcher and 147 Republicans in voting to decertify Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
Even within Idaho’s congressional delegation that day, Fulcher was an outlier. His colleague, Rep. Mike Simpson, as well as U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, voted to certify the results.
l The Texas State Bar has launched a professional misconduct lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who attempted to abort the election by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to toss aside Biden’s victories in the key states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
That would have thrown the election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where the rules handed the GOP minority the means to give Trump a second term.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed it, but Wasden’s refusal to go along was “hogwash,” Labrador told the Idaho Statesman. “He didn’t join the lawsuit because he agreed with Democrats across the country that governors could change election laws without the consent of the people’s representatives.”
The suit challenges Paxton’s honesty in pursuing a case that was “not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law.”
Paxton could be disbarred.
The Jan. 6 Committee has exposed the “big lie” as a deliberate deception and a threat to American democracy. It’s one thing for Democrats to say it. But in the course of the past two weeks, a parade of Republicans — the such so-called “Team Normal” members including former Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien and even the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump — testified that they told Trump he had lost the election.
Others told Trump the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally stop the Jan. 6 Electoral College certification was, in the words of conservative icon and retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, “constitutional mischief.”
Luttig added that “Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to our democracy.”
Even with irrefutable proof that Labrador cares little for the facts or the law, there’s a problem. He didn’t merely win the all-important GOP nomination in a primary where only one-in-five Idahoans voted. He’s essentially running unopposed in November, leaving the bulk of Idaho voters with no real choice.
The Democratic candidate for attorney general, former state Rep. Steve Scanlin of Boise, has raised virtually no money.
He’s not campaigning.
Scanlin was a no-show at last weekend’s Idaho Democratic Convention in Boise.
All of which are telltale signs of a placeholder.
Placeholders preserve their party’s option by signing up as the candidate filing deadline lapses. Typically, they step aside, allowing the party to nominate a candidate when one emerges.
So where’s the candidate? Democrats have an obligation to give voters an alternative.
Is there not one Idaho attorney out there watching the Jan. 6 hearings and reading the Constitution who doesn’t hear the call of duty? — M.T.