State Rep. Raul Labrador won the Republican nomination yesterday in a key Idaho House race, pulling an upset over rival Vaughn Ward, who had a 6-to-one fundraising advantage and an endorsement by Sarah Palin. Ward was an early frontrunner in the race, designated as one of the GOP's top 23 recruits in its "Young Guns" candidate development program. But he came under fire for plagiarism in campaign speeches, including lifting passages from the keynote address given by Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention.
Labrador entered the race late, launching his bid just six months ago, and the primary became an unusually tangled battle that divided local and national Tea Party activists. With 435 of 462 precincts reporting, Labrador collected 48.1% of the vote compared to 38.8% for Ward, who described the race as "a humbling experience." Labrador's victory sets up a battle with first-term Democrat Walt Minnick in November.