GOP leaders call for unity following tough primary election
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Republican leaders on Thursday rallied behind a message of unity just days after many of them faced off in heated and contentious primary contests.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who won the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Tuesday’s primary, says now is the time for Idaho’s GOP base to come together and support Republican candidates in the months leading up to the November general election.
“Idaho’s position today as the preferred home for limited government and maximum opportunity is the result of your work and the work of Republicans for generations in the state of Idaho,” Little said, joking that Republicans all wear the same team jersey.
Little was joined by his primary opponents: four-term Congressman Raul Labrador and emergency room doctor-turned Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist during Thursday’s so-called “GOP unity rally” as a show of party solidarity.
“Congressman Labrador, thank you for your service and thank you for representing conservative values and all the work you’ve done for Idaho,” Little said. “Dr. Ahlquist, thank you for bringing a new dynamism to the dialogue that we had on the campaign trail and I look forward to your advice and counsel moving forward.”
Labrador and Ahlquist didn’t speak at the event, but stood and clapped beside Little and others. All three participated in a lengthy and combative primary contest that resulted in numerous negative advertisements, accusations of character attacks and record-breaking spending in their attempt to woo enough voters.
The race’s competitiveness was fueled by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter deciding not to run for a fourth term, leaving the top statewide position open for the first time in 12 years.
Other GOP statewide nominees and lawmakers also stood with Little on the Capitol steps, including 1st Congressional District GOP candidate Russ Fulcher, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and GOP Treasurer candidate Julie Ellsworth. Roughly 100 people were in attendance of the rally.
Idaho Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Parker warned that the party should not take anything for granted even though Idaho is an overwhelmingly Republican state.
“Not everyone can win, but it is time to unite,” Parker said. “Too much is at stake.”
Currently, all statewide and federal elected positions are held by Republicans, as well as the majority of the Idaho Legislature.