Idaho Attorney General race heats up

The primary election will be held on May 17
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 12:16 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — In this year’s Republican Primary for Idaho Attorney General, incumbent Lawrence Wasden will look to again secure a role he has held for 20 years.

“I’m the lawyer for the state,” said Wasden. “It’s the Attorney General’s duty to represent the state, its agencies, officers, offices, commissions, institutions and other state entities.”

Who the Attorney General actually represents has become a pivotal point of debate in this race. Wasden’s challengers Art Macomber and Raúl Labrador said his description of the role is missing a vital interest.

“If you’re the attorney for just the government, what happens to the people?” asked Macomber.

Labrador added, “I think the Attorney General should be a defender of the people’s rights.”

Another debated aspect of Wasden’s most recent term is his relationship with the legislature. Some said his opinions on pending legislation have at times stifled his own party’s progress.

Opponents have cited Senate Bill 1309 — an abortion restriction bill, which allows for civil lawsuits against medical providers who perform unlawful abortions, as an example of what they feel is Wasden standing in his own party’s way. Wasden’s legal opinion offered at the request of Idaho Senator Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) cast doubt on the bill’s constitutionality. The bill, which is similar to Texas’ abortion law, was passed by both chambers, but Wasden’s sentiments were echoed in Governor Brad Little’s transmittal letter sent when he signed the bill into law.

Wasden, however, says his opinion is based on what the law is at the time.

“It’s like you and I are driving down the street in the car and we look up and see a traffic signal. I notice that the light is red, you say to me ‘what color is the light?’ I can tell you the truth and say the light is red which in that case you get upset with me because you don’t like that answer or I can lie to you and tell you that the light is green. Problem is if I’m willing to lie to you, it doesn’t change the color of the light. It’s still red,” said Wasden.

Labrador, however, feels Wasden’s office is more focused on the past than the future and thinks Idaho’s Attorney General should be more aggressive.

“The fight for the future of our nation, the fight for the soul of our nation, they’re all happening in the courts right now. And strong, aggressive Attorney Generals throughout the United States they’re taking on the Biden administration, they’re taking on executive overreach and our Attorney General just refuses to do that,” said Labrador.

Speaking of the Executive Branch, Wasden’s willingness to check that branch of government has been a point of contention among the candidates, as well. Macomber said Wasden does not do enough to protect Idaho’s state rights.

“So far, President Biden has issued north of 75 executive orders, and if you read down through them there’s a lot that encroach on the state’s traditional sphere of governance,” said Macomber. “We need to be one of the first right out of the chute saying that’s not right and here’s why.”

Wasden, on the other hand, said he does not want the state involved in ill-advised, frivolous litigation at the expense of taxpayers.

“If we have an Attorney General who is not willing to live by the rule of law, not willing to fulfill their oath of office and not willing to make that hard call and say ‘it’s constitutional or not,’ then we become unhinged from our own constitution,” said Wasden.

The election will be held on May 17.

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