Raul Labrador said he’d pay attention to Tea Party groups during a question and answer session Tuesday hosted by Tea Party Boise. The group has endorsed Labrador, a Republican state representative from Eagle, in his run for Congress against Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick.

“You’re holding our feet to the fire,” Labrador said to the crowd of between 60 and 80 people at the event. “You’re also telling us that if we don’t keep our promises, you have no problem kicking us out, and I think that’s what you should do.”

Labrador staked out policy positions on several issues, but also assured supporters that he would pay attention to voters. He credited Minnick’s constituent services but said people who write letters to him often feel ignored. Labrador tried to portray Minnick as out of touch.

“He believes that going back to Washington, D.C., is kind of like going back to a club,” Labrador said. “I guess that’s what happens when you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth and then you became a CEO.” Labrador said his focus in Congress would be on following the Constitution.

Several questions from the audience touched on the relationship between members of Congress and voters. “I want to vote for someone that I know, despite his principles, is going to listen to me, meaning the people,” said Karen Hill of Boise. “Whoever sends you to Washington is asking you to remember that you work for us.”

Hill said she was reasonably happy with Labrador’s commitment to voters. She said she thinks Minnick has done a decent job in Congress, but that Labrador could do better.

Dealing with policy issues, Labrador said he favors tax reform that includes a flat tax on income or potentially a “Fair Tax,” a national sales tax, though he said that would be less likely to pass in Congress.

Labrador also said that one key to lowering illegal immigration is changing welfare laws to reduce eligibility for people. “The problem with illegal immigration is so great because we have such a generous welfare system,” he said. “If we change our welfare laws, and we make it more difficult for people, not just illegal aliens but everyone, to get welfare, you will have less people coming to the United States.”

Labrador, who has trailed Minnick in most published polls, said he expects to join Republicans in retaking control of the House, which would end overreaches by Democrats on issues including health care.

“I think the Democrats are going to learn their lesson,” he said. “They thought that they could ramrod this legislation through … And if we don’t (learn our lesson), I think you’re going to get rid of us.”

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