By John Celock
An Idaho Republican has switched races from governor to Congress after a congressman who has previously backed him entered the gubernatorial race.
Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher announced last week that he was switching from the gubernatorial contest to the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador in the first congressional district. Fulcher’s announcement comes after Labrador, who had backed him in the 2014 GOP gubernatorial primary, announced that he would seek the governorship. Gov. Butch Otter (R) is not seeking a fourth term next year.
“When I announced my candidacy I was the only candidate prepared to implement a conservative, citizen driven plan for Idaho,” Fulcher said in a video announcement, noting that other conservative Republicans have joined the gubernatorial contest.
Fulcher said that he believed that the race to succeed Labrador in Congress was in need of a conservative candidate. Labrador has endorsed Fulcher for the congressional seat, while Fulcher has endorsed Labrador for governor.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little and real estate developer Tommy Ahlquist are also seeking the GOP nomination for Idaho governor.
Currently former Lt. Gov. Dave Leroy and former Idaho County Commissioner James Rockwell are the only other Republican in the congressional race. Several state lawmakers are considering entering the contest.
The congressional race marks an attempt at a political comeback for Leroy, who practices law in Boise. Leroy was lieutenant governor from 1983 to 1987, was state attorney general from 1979 to 1983 and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor in 1986. Leroy, who unsuccessfully sought the congressional seat in 1994, was the U.S. nuclear waste negotiator in the first Bush Administration.
Fulcher said his decision was being a good leader.
“Good leadership recognizes when there is a need to institute a u-turn,” he said. “Now is one of those circumstances.”