Incumbents win easily; ag groups say Minnick will
By DAVE WILKINS
In conservative Idaho, it was a sweep for Republicans in statewide races.
Incumbent Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter easily won re-election over Democrat
Keith Allred and three other challengers.
Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson, both incumbents, won handily over Democratic and independent challengers.
Republican newcomer Raul Labrador, meanwhile, edged incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, in Idaho's 1st Congressional District race.
Agriculture groups in Idaho seemed generally pleased with the election results, although some said Labrador's victory over Minnick could mean less clout for Idaho as Congress begins debate on a new farm bill.
Labrador, a former state legislator and attorney, is not expected to pursue an assignment on the ag committee.
"We're going to lose representation on that House ag committee," said Travis Jones, executive director of the Idaho Grain Producers Association. "That's going to set us back."
However, Labrador appears eager to learn about agriculture, Jones said. He approached leaders of the association prior to the election, asking for help in understanding issues of importance to Idaho wheat and barley producers.
"He may not have a direct link to agriculture, but I think he understands what agriculture means to the state," Jones said of Labrador. "He understands the importance of small business."
Idaho ag groups regarded Minnick as an ally and said his influence on the House Ag Committee will be missed.
"We have been served really well by Congressman Minnick and his staff," Jones said.
Representatives with the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation echoed that sentiment.
"We didn't have any issues with Minnick," said John Thompson, director of information for the Farm Bureau. "He was right in line with Farm Bureau on the votes that he cast."
Thompson said Idaho will miss Minnick's presence on the House ag committee, but is looking forward to working with Labrador, who understands immigration issues well.
Labrador, a member of the Idaho Business Coalition for Immigration Reform, favors reforms that would provide a path for some undocumented workers to earn legal status.