Implications of the war of words between BSU President and Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador

Posted at 10:16 PM, Aug 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 00:16:00-04

A war of words between two of Idaho’s top leaders. Each has the potential to determine the other's future.

It started when Boise State's President Bob Kustra addressed race relations following the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, during his annual State of the University speech.

Kustra criticized the White House's response and specifically called out an Idaho politician.

"Congressman Labrador decided that he would come out against White Nationalism, but he also came out against Black Nationalism, it's like, let me Google that,” stated Kustra.

The Congressman took to the radio airwaves to strike back. "It's interesting when you have a white 66 year old man from a liberal state telling me a young Hispanic male how to react to racism." Labrador continued, “Maybe it's time for him to go. Maybe it's time he decides it's someone else's turn to lead BSU."

Labrador's suggestion could become a reality, if the Congressman wins his bid to be Idaho's next governor. Our state's top leader has a tremendous amount of sway in higher education, including making policy, holding purse strings and appointing State Board of Education members. Those are just a few of the reasons why university presidents typically don't tread into murky political waters.

Even in a heated case like this, Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert says he'd be surprised to see Kustra endorse one of Labrador's opponents.

“There's a lot of personal and political risk to doing that. And at some level that risk has to be factored into not just having an effect on Bob Kustra, but it could have an effect on Boise State University. It's a high risk proposition for a University President to dabble that aggressively, that overtly into State politics," says Richert.

But Bob Kustra knows politics. He is, after all, the former Lt. Governor of Illinois and a Republican. With the primary nine months away, there's still plenty of time for more words and reaction.