Tea Party Express, one of several national organizations representing Tea Party groups, is endorsing Republican Raul Labrador in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. The group previously backed Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, but Minnick spurned that endorsement after a Tea Party Express spokesman published a racially sensitive letter.
“I’m delighted to receive the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, an organization that brings a voice to people in America who previously felt they had no voice,” Labrador said in a prepared statement. “The Tea Party Express and its members are sick and tired of the business as usual attitude and actions of Washington insiders like Walt Minnick.”
Labrador previously condemned former Tea Party Express chairman Mark Williams’ fictional letter writing as “Colored People” asking President Abraham Lincoln to reconsider emancipating the slaves. In July, Labrador’s campaign wouldn’t say whether he’d seek or accept the group’s endorsement.
In a news release, Tea Party Express said it’s turning to Labrador because Minnick won’t sign on to a repeal of health care legislation and won’t pledge to vote against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The group also claimed that Minnick rejected the endorsement after receiving pressure from Democratic leadership.
Minnick’s campaign director, John Foster, said the campaign wasn’t pressured into condemning Williams’ letter. “We never discussed it with leadership,” Foster told IdahoReporter.com.
Minnick has also said that he wants to fix the problematic parts of the health care legislation rather than back a Republican repeal of the plan. He’s also said in a televised debate that he’d prefer to vote for a Democratic leader besides Pelosi who better represents Idaho’s values.