- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - Republican U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador said members of Congress affiliated with the tea party movement are having a positive effect, and that he should be returned to the House of Representatives for a third term from Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

“I think Washington has changed a little bit because I’m there,” Labrador said during a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I want the opportunity to complete the mission.”

Labrador pointed to reduction in the federal budget deficit and a drop in the unemployment rate as two places where he and other tea party Republicans have been effective.

“That’s because people like me went back to Washington to stop the agenda of President Obama,” Labrador said.

Labrador faces three challengers in the May 20 GOP primary election. They are Sean Blackwell of Rathdrum, Michael Greenway of Eagle and Lisa Marie of Boise. But there is little to suggest that the 46-year-old lawmaker is in any trouble. Labrador won in the last general election by a 63 percent to 31 percent margin.

For the Democrats, state Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow and Ryan Barone of Hayden are facing off in the primary.

Labrador is a lawyer who defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, to win a House seat in 2010. A native of Puerto Rico, he graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Washington School of Law.

Labrador said his top achievement so far has been helping to reduce the federal deficit from $1.4 trillion to about $600 billion.

“It’s not great, but it’s better,” he said.

The unemployment rate has dropped from 10 percent to around 7 percent, he added.

“Strong fiscal conservatives fighting in the House have made a huge impact on the economy,” Labrador said.

Blackwell is a hemp advocate who contends the media and government are owned by the nation’s top 1 percent of earners. Greenway is a Boise State University political science student who contends Labrador has contributed to gridlock in Congress. He said he would seek compromise with Democrats in Congress.

Marie does not appear to have campaigned.

Ringo, the likely Democratic nominee, has a different view of Labrador, calling him a leading force for “ineffectiveness.”

“When you look at his willingness to shut down the government in order to stop the Affordable Care Act, that doesn’t speak well to his idea of how government should work,” Ringo said.

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