BOISE -- - Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the 2018 governor race.
The congressman filed the paperwork to run as a Republican at 9:14 a.m. Tuesday morning in the Secretary of State's Office.
The move comes just days after Labrador made a comment during a Lewiston town hall that has drawn national attention and sparked backlash.
In response to a statement from an audience member at the town hall, Labrador said "nobody dies because they don't have access to health care," drawing immediate boos. He later sought to clarify his comments, posting online that he had meant hospitals are required to provide emergency care.
Labrador has not responded to further requests for comment by KTVB.
Current governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter has said he will not run for reelection in 2018. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist and former state senator Russ Fulcher are also running on the Republican ticket.
"Running for Governor of the great state of Idaho takes serious preparation," Labrador said in a statement. "To comply with both the spirit and the letter of the law, I have filed the appropriate campaign finance form required to register as a candidate for Governor. I'll be making a formal announcement in the coming weeks. Idaho needs a proven conservative leader who will stand against the special interests and politicians that have picked the winners and losers in our state Capitol for too long. Idaho needs a strong leader who will make government fair for everyone. Idaho needs a governor who will provide a new vision, a new approach and new leadership."
All three other candidates weighed in on their newest opponents in statements released Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little
“Here in Idaho, we are leading the nation in job growth, we are in the top three for best places to own a business, and wages for Idahoans have been growing at twice the national average. Our conservative Republican leadership in Idaho is leading Idahoans into prosperity.
Idaho is not Washington DC, and I would like to welcome Congressman Labrador back home to the place where we balance our budget and conservative ideals guide us each day. Idahoans, including myself, look forward to hearing from Congressman Labrador about the accomplishments he has made while being in congress for over 6 years.”
“I welcome Congressman Labrador to the race and look forward to a spirited campaign," he said in a statement. "The Congressman will bring his experience in Washington, D.C. to the race, and I am excited to continue sharing my conservative message of building an even better Idaho with a fresh approach and new ideas. I look forward to seeing the Congressman on the campaign trail.”
"I welcome my friend Congressman Labrador to the race, and wish him and his family all the best. In 2014, he endorsed me in my race for Governor, stating he supported me because of my “political courage and fresh ideas.” He said that I would “work to reduce our dependence on Washington DC, make the tax code more competitive, reduce regulation, and give Idaho the chance to fulfill its promise.” I suspect he still believes that.
For the next year I will be traveling the state, meeting with Idahoans, listening to their concerns, and learning how I can best serve you as Idaho’s next Governor. "