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Looking forward with Labrador

| December 8, 2010 8:00 PM

An informal editorial board meeting Friday with Congressman-elect Raul Labrador illustrated why we think he might not be "one and done" like his two immediate predecessors, Walt Minnick and Bill Sali.

After months of difficult, stressful campaigning, Labrador described himself as energized. He laughs easily and listens closely. He seems to have his eye on the big picture, focusing on a limited role for a more efficient federal government. Best of all, Labrador sounds determined to represent the people of Congressional District 1 rather than catering to special interests or fringe groups.

The native of Puerto Rico, who grew up as the only child of a single mom in a poor household, understands the argument that earmarks are one way for smaller states, like Idaho, to compete against larger states to fund important projects. But he opposes earmarks as "bribing tools" and called them "pernicious."

"Earmarks are ways to get congressmen to vote for something they don't want to vote for," he said. He explained that projects seeking funding should be required to stand or fall on their own. What's rotten, he said, is tying pet projects to something like a military funding bill, because nobody wants to vote against a bill to finance our war efforts.

Asked to share his thoughts on the deficit reduction panel's recommendations to President Obama and Congress, Labrador candidly said he wasn't familiar enough with those recommendations yet to state an opinion. We found that refreshing and were further encouraged when he said he would not complain about funding cuts already planned for his office and staffing. "We all need to do our parts," he said.

Two more bright prospects:

Labrador said foremost on his agenda is helping create an environment where business can flourish because when businesses are doing well, people have good jobs. He understands that it is not government's role to create the jobs themselves.

Reminded that one of the things Rep. Minnick did very well - outstanding communication and service to his constituents - Rep.-elect Labrador emphatically agreed. He said he intends to emulate Minnick's standards in constituent services. That bodes well for everyone in CD1.

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