Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman flew into Boise yesterday to boost GOP congressional candidate Bill Sali at a rally at state GOP headquarters, but the timing wasn’t the greatest. When Mehlman met with reporters, much of the questioning was about the national scandal involving former GOP Congressman Mark Foley of Florida and his salacious instant messages to young congressional pages, and how GOP leaders in Congress dealt with the issue. That scandal is exploding in D.C. right now to the point that Beltway insiders no longer expect Republicans to hold onto the majority in the House this election.
The hastily organized Mehlman visit came after the National Republican Congressional Committee spent more than $10,569 on Tuesday on a new poll in the 1st CD race, according to their FEC independent expenditure report. On Wednesday, according to the same FEC report, the NRCC spent $7,585 for “issue ad production” opposing Sali’s Democratic opponent, Larry Grant. The anti-Grant ad hasn’t popped up on TV yet.
A media advisory announcing yesterday’s rally noted that the rally would include “Chairman Ken Mehlman, Gov. Bill Risch, Rep. Butch Otter & Republican-candidate Bill Sali.” Gov. Bill Risch?
Grant put out a press release yesterday crowing over the Republicans’ apparent flurry of concern over the race. “They’ve learned what we already know, that the voters in Idaho’s First District are turning to a better choice in Larry Grant,” Grant said in the release. “The problem here is Chairman Mehlman’s leadership has only brought us scandal, corruption, and gridlock. America deserves better.” For months, various national reports have traced connections between Mehlman and disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, though Mehlman, former White House political director, has sought to distance himself.
Mehlman spoke to about a hundred GOP activists in Boise, according to the Associated Press, touting Sali as a tax cutter who would support America’s war on terror. Sali said he doesn’t feel tainted by the current D.C. scandal. “Things that are going on in Washington, D.C. will resolve themselves,” he said. “People are looking into it, and making sure it’s handled right, and I have the confidence they’ll get the job done.”
Sali said the RCCC is making a “coordinated expenditure” to pay for a TV buy to continue running his current campaign ad, but he didn’t know anything about the attack ad. Sali has been running a commercial touting himself as a “Republican leader.” In the primary, however, the Club for Growth ran attack ads on his behalf blasting two of his GOP primary opponents, Sheila Sorensen and Robert Vasquez.