5-term Idaho attorney general in tough GOP primary battle

Idaho's five-term Republican attorney general has handled the state's legal questions with a strategy he describes as calling legal “balls and strikes.”

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 17 May 2022 19:16
Election 2022 Idaho Primary
Election 2022 Idaho Primary

Idaho’s five-term Republican attorney general has handled his duties in the deeply conservative state for 20 years with a strategy he describes as calling legal “balls and strikes.” He's facing two challengers who see a more activist role for the office.

Lawrence Wasden, a former prosecutor backed by establishment Republicans, is likely in the toughest primary race of his career against former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Art Macomber, a political newcomer who has never held public office.

Labrador, a favorite of the Tea Party during his eight years in the U.S. House, lost to now-Gov. Brad Little in the 2018 Republican primary. The attorney general post could be a stepping stone for another gubernatorial run in 2026.

Macomber, a self-described outsider whose background is in civil litigation, could be a spoiler for Labrador if he siphons off enough votes from far-right Republicans.

Wasden has the endorsements of Little and former Republican Govs. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Dirk Kempthorne and Phil Batt, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and former Republican Attorney General and Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones. He's also endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

He tells lawmakers when he believes proposed laws would likely be struck down by courts, irritating members of his party. They created a Legislative Legal Defense Fund to hire their own attorneys that, critics say, tell lawmakers what they want to hear. The fund, controlled by House and Senates leaders, has spent millions.

“You can choose an attorney general that follows the law or one that thinks he’s a congressional activist or a policymaker," Wasden said during a debate with Labrador and Macomber last month.

Labrador is upfront in telling conservative lawmakers they'll have a partner with him in the attorney general's office.

“This job is not just a legal job, it’s a political job,” Labrador said in the same debate. “I would just be a lot more aggressive.”

Wasden has taken part in multiple lawsuits against the Biden administration but has been criticized for not joining a Texas lawsuit contesting President Joe Biden winning the 2020 election. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out that lawsuit after ruling Texas didn't have standing.

Wasden said by not participating, he was defending Idaho's sovereignty because such a lawsuit could allow other states to sue Idaho, interfering with Idaho's ability to govern itself.

The GOP primary winner will face Steve Scanlin in November, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. But the Republican primary winner is expected to easily win the general election in the deep-red state.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in