So many stereotypes broken, so little time. Raul Labrador, an LDS immigration attorney born in Puerto Rico, is the Republican candidate for the 1st congressional district in Idaho. Raised in a single-parent home, he is a strong fiscal conservative who favors immigration reform.
Let us count the stereotypes that have been beaten down in this case.
–LDS candidates in the West are getting crazier and crazier. You read this just about everywhere in the Bloggernacle, but here is a good example of this jaded thinking. It is worth pointing out that a pretty loopy LDS candidate in Idaho, Rex Rammell, lost in his primary. So, maybe we can just say that LDS candidates are like politicians from other religions, meaning we have good ones and bad ones.
–Tea party conservatives are anti-immigration and racist. No, actually, they are not. The primary cause of tea party conservatives is fiscal restraint. It is true that there is some link between the tea party and anti-immigrant fever (which I oppose), but for that matter there was also a link between anti-Iraq demonstrators and the Communist party. The primary cause of the many anti-Iraq demonstrations during the Bush years was opposition to the war in Iraq. The primary cause of the tea party is opposition to government spending. And about that racist thing? Well, voters in conservative Idaho chose an immigration lawyer born in Puerto Rico as their candidate, and the tea party supports a whole slew of black and Hispanic candidates nationwide. Sorry, this stereotype is simply wrong.
–A Republican favoring a sensible immigration policy can never get elected in the West. Wrong again. Labrador was painted as “pro-amnesty” by his well-funded Republican opponent, but Labrador’s policy is actually more nuanced and realistic than that, especially given that he is an immigration lawyer and understands our broken immigration system better than most. He favors border enforcement but also favors reform that allows for the legalization of immigrants in the U.S. You can read his position here.
A few last points: it is true that Labrador won the Republican nomination at least in part because his primary opponent, Vaughn Ward, turned out to have plagiarized some Obama speeches and thought Puerto Rico is a country (it is a Commonwealth). But Ward had a 6-to-1 spending advantage and was favored by all of the Republican party heavyweights. Labrador ran a great campaign.
If I lived in the 1st district of Idaho, I would vote for Labrador, but it is worth pointing out that his Democrat opponent, Walt Minnick, is one of the better Democrats out there and has been endorsed by some tea party groups. If the Democrats sent more candidates like Minnick and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) to Congress they would be much better off.