Idaho’s longest-serving attorney general has been ousted in the Republican primary election after the winner, former Rep. Raul Labrador, tagged him for being insufficiently conservative and supportive of the agenda pushed by former President Donald Trump.

Labrador won the attorney general GOP primary with 51.6% of the vote, edging out incumbent Lawrence Wasden, who was first elected to the office in 2002. The incumbent had faced an uphill battle in recent months as far-right opponents criticized the attorney general for not embodying more of a conservative activist role in his position.


Labrador, a former congressman who left office to launch an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018, is all but guaranteed to be elected because the Republican nominee for attorney general typically wins in deep-red Idaho. Early returns Tuesday night indicated a victory for Labrador, who noted it reflected Idahoans’ desire to shift state politics.

“We knew that the early voting in Ada County was going to be a little bit tighter, but we knew that we were doing really well in the rest of the state,” Labrador told the Idaho Statesman in mentioning the county that includes the state capital of Boise. “So we feel fantastic about today. People want a change in the attorney general’s office.”

Labrador was first elected to Congress in 2010 amid a Tea Party wave, part of a conservative backlash two years into Barack Obama's presidency. He helped co-found the House Freedom Caucus, which consisted of the chamber's most conservative Republicans.

With Trump and support perpetuating conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, voting procedures became a flashpoint in the race. Wasden came under fire for rejecting a bid to join a Texas lawsuit that sought to overturn election results in key battleground states that secured President Joe Biden’s victory. Despite joining other lawsuits against the Biden administration, the incumbent argued that such a move would make the state vulnerable to future lawsuits and risk its autonomy.

“You can choose an attorney general that follows the law or one that thinks he’s a congressional activist or a policymaker,” Wasden said during a debate in April.

Labrador has instead embraced the activist role, arguing the attorney general should open itself up to taking sides and partnering with lawmakers.

“This job is not just a legal job. It’s a political job,” Labrador said in the debate. “I would just be a lot more aggressive.”


Wasden’s loss marks a crossroads for Idaho voters as they face a choice to back the establishment GOP in one of the most Republican corners of the country or seek Trump’s endorsements. While the incumbent was booted from office, Gov. Brad Little survived his primary challenge from Trump-backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.

Labrador will go on to face Democratic nominee Steve Scanlin, who ran unopposed in the state primary.