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Politics 2010: A war chest vs. a war billfold in Idaho's 1st District

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   May 23, 2010 at 6:55 AM   |   Comments

Lying in wait for the winner of Tuesday's Republican tilt for Idaho's 1st Congressional District is the Democratic incumbent with a huge campaign war chest.

Idaho Republican Vaughn Ward may be outspending primary opponent Raul Labrador, but both pale in the cash-on-hand department against one-term Idaho Democrat Rep. Walt Minnick.

Ward, a former CIA officer, Senate aide and the preferred candidate of the National Republican Congressional Committee, raised $57,000 and spent $221,000 from April 1 through May 5, latest financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission indicate. He has roughly $126,000 cash on hand.

Labrador is taking a more low-key approach in his bid. His latest financial disclosure filing with the FEC indicated he took in $15,000 and paid $62,000, which includes a $30,000 partial repayment of a personal loan he made to his campaign. He had $36,000 cash on hand.

Minnick, on the other hand, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. He's raised $118,000 and spent $71,000 during the latest FEC filing period, increasing his cash-on-hand total to a whopping $936,000.

In what may have some conservative commentators scratching their heads, the national Tea Party endorsed Minnick, the Idaho Conservative Blogger reported. After standing mum following the endorsement, Tea Party Boise backed Labrador, saying: "We have concluded there is a clear choice in the primary race. TPB believes that Raul Labrador understands the issues facing Idahoans and America today, far better than his opponent, and will be the stronger candidate to challenge Representative Minnick in November."

Ward, among the first House challengers named to the National Republican Campaign Committee's "Young Guns" program for promising recruits, was sidetracked near the end of his primary campaign by allegations he plagiarized material on his Web site and did not enter a voting booth in the 2008 general election, Politico reported. He eventually fired his campaign manager as damage control to try to recover from the miscues that hit him with just weeks to go in the primary season.

Ward's Web site allegedly borrowed tax relief language from Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., marriage commentary from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and healthcare thoughts from commentary written by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review said.

"Vaughn has taken full responsibility. He is upset about it, and he knows these mistakes have hurt him. He is moving forward by replacing his team with campaign professionals," a Republican strategist working with his campaign told Politico.

Besides Ward and Labrador, Harley D. Brown , Michael L. Chadwick and Allan M. Salzberg are vying for the GOP nod.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Mike Simpson is fighting the incumbent label two primary challengers, state Rep. Russ Mathews and businessman Chick Heileson, are trying paint on him. Katherine Burton also is in the GOP race.

Mike Crawford is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

During a recent debate, Heileson sarcastically suggested everyone should receive a bailout, asking whether decisions should be made "because we think it's right, or do we follow the rule of law?" KMVT-TV, Twin Falls, reported.

Mathews said bailouts set "poor precedent" and delay economic recovery.

The nation was facing potential unemployment of "probably 20-35 percent" if nothing were done, Simpson said. "I'm unwilling to accept that."

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo appears to be safely on his way to re-election, a Rasmussen poll conducted in March indicated. The incumbent Republican ran unopposed in Idaho's 2004 Senate election, and has no major GOP challengers in this year's race.

Crapo, seeking a third term, is viewed favorably by 63 percent of voters and unfavorably by 28 percent.

Crapo's decision to skip a statewide debate with Republican challenger Claude Davis prompted his likely Democratic opponent Tom Sullivan to say, "If I'd botched the economy the way he has, I wouldn't be anxious to face the voters either," The Spokesman-Review said.

Sullivan faces a challenge from William Bryk for the Democratic nomination.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter holds a comfortable lead in the Republican primary in his bid for a second term, a recent Rasmussen poll indicated.

Similarly, Keith Allred, Otter's likely Democratic challenger on Election Day, faces no serious opposition in seeking the party nomination, the poll said. However, Rasmussen warned a Democratic gubernatorial candidate faces long odds in November -- the Gem State hasn't elected a Democrat governor in 20 years.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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