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Five-term Idaho Attorney General ousted in Republican primary

Former congressman Raul Labrador was trailing Lawrence Wasden after the first batch of election returns, but surged ahead as the rest of the votes were counted.

BOISE, Idaho — For KTVB's full election night footage, click here.

Former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador has won Idaho’s Republican attorney general primary, beating a longtime incumbent who had been criticized by the far right for not taking a more activist role.

Labrador prevailed over Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who was backed by establishment Republicans, and Art Macomber, who has never held public office.

Wasden lost the advantage Tuesday night as more counties outside the highly populated Boise region began reporting votes.

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

"Thank you to the primary voters of Idaho who have put your faith and trust in me to serve as your next Attorney General. I also want to thank the countless volunteers who put in so many hours along with my campaign team. Your work did not go unnoticed," Labrador said in a post on his campaign's Twitter feed. "Today we continue our campaign as we work toward the November general election. I look forward to being a strong voice for the people of Idaho."

In his five terms as Idaho’s attorney general, Wasden has handled his duties in the deeply conservative state for 20 years with a strategy he describes as calling legal “balls and strikes.” Labrador and Macomber see a more activist role for the office.

Some political observers thought Macomber, a self-described outsider whose background is in civil litigation, could have been a spoiler for Labrador if he siphoned off enough votes from far-right Republicans.

Wasden had 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 has told 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 dismissed 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.

Labrador will face Steve Scanlin in November, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

For full election results, click here.

Who is Raul Labrador?

Credit: IPTV
Raul Labrador

Labrador lives in Eagle with his wife, Rebecca. They have five children and two grandchildren. Labrador is currently a practicing attorney and member of the Central District Board of Health. He was elected to the U.S. House in 2010, and was representative for the First Congressional District from 2011 until 2019. Labrador ran for governor of Idaho in the 2018 Republican primary. Before serving in Congress, he served two terms in the Idaho House as a representative from the 14th legislative district. View Labrador's campaign website here.

Who is Art Macomber?

Credit: IPTV
Art Macomber

Macomber is an attorney based in Coeur d'Alene. He ran for an Idaho House District 4 seat in the 2016 Republican primary and was elected a Republican precinct committeeman in 2018 in Kootenai County. The website for the firm Macomber founded states that he retired and transferred his interest in April 2021. Macomber practiced real estate law in northern Idaho for 15 years. He received his law degree from Hastings College of Law at the University of California. View Macomber's campaign website here.

Who is Lawrence Wasden?

Credit: Screenshot/Idaho Public Television
Lawrence Wasden

Wasden was first elected as Idaho Attorney General in November 2002, and is the longest-serving attorney general in state history. In 1989, he was appointed as a Deputy Attorney General assigned to the Idaho State Tax Commission. Wasden was later promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff, then Chief of Staff. Before joining the Idaho Attorney General's Office, he was a deputy prosecutor in Canyon County and the prosecuting attorney for Owyhee County. Wasden earned his law degree from the University of Idaho and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1985. Lawrence Wasden and his wife, Tracey, live in Nampa and have four children and 13 grandchildren. View Wasden's campaign website here.

Track Idaho primary election results here.

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