Idaho Governor Butch Otter says the history of disagreement he has with Congressman Raul Labrador represents differences of opinion not conflict.
Otter made that comment during a breakfast sponsored by the Idaho Press Club. His answer was in response to a question about a possible gubernatorial challenge from fellow Republican Labrador.
Otter refused to say when he would officially declare his candidacy for 2014. But he said he was not backing down from previous informal statements that he would seek a third term. “I’m just not going to be pushed into a calendar," he told reporters. "I got a lot of other things on my mind right now. I’m planning on it. I’m fund raising. I’m doing those things that I can at the same time I’m trying to govern the state of Idaho.”
Though the 70-year-old is not yet an official candidate for reelection, Otter did say he hopes no one else runs for governor.
The Governor also weighed in on efforts to create a state-based health care exchange - an option under the federal Affordable Care Act. Idaho’s Senate will debate Otter’s plan to do this. Thursday a Senate committee approved the measure 8-1.
All the Republicans on the committee voted for it despite a split among state party leaders. States can create their own exchange or let the federal government do it. Otter told reporters Friday he didn’t know why the committee approved the bill. He said when he served as a state representative, he sometimes would vote for a bill in committee he intended to vote against later.
“Because it was a large enough issue and a passionate enough issue that I thought the entire House ought to have the opportunity to discuss, debate and vote on that bill," the Governor said. "So I can’t really lay or assign any reasons for that. All I can say is I’m grateful.”
Idaho Republicans are divided over the insurance exchange issue. Some see a state run exchange as preferable to a federal one. Otter leads that camp. Others see creating the exchange as being complicit in what they call Obamacare.