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Eye On Boise

Tue., July 1, 2008, 4:30 p.m.

Risch ahead in LaRocco poll, but LaRocco’s happy

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Larry LaRocco today released the results of a poll that showed that in a head-to-head contest, 500 likely Idaho voters chose Republican Jim Risch over LaRocco 43 percent to 28 percent, with independent Rex Rammell getting 6 percent, “other” at 6 percent and 18 percent undecided. It doesn’t seem like that sounds so great for LaRocco. But when respondents to the 500-person poll “heard about Risch and LaRocco’s stances on the issues and were asked to vote again, LaRocco had 40 percent, Risch 37 percent, Rammell 5 percent, other 5 percent and undecideds dropped to 13 percent,” the LaRocco campaign said in a press release, saying, “Voters choose LaRocco when they know the issues.”

Among the issues discussed: Energy, G.I. bill enhancements, LaRocco’s opposition to NAFTA, the many jobs LaRocco has taken for a day each across the state as part of his campaign, the Risch property tax relief plan from his seven months as governor, which lowered property taxes while raising the sales tax, and the importation of radioactive sand from Kuwait to Idaho.

The poll also found 54 percent of respondents holding an unfavorable view of President George W. Bush, in a state where Bush long has been considerably more popular than he was elsewhere in the country; Bush took 68.4 percent of the vote in Idaho in 2004.

The LaRocco campaign said the poll also found that Risch “is neither well-known nor well-liked.” It was conducted by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake from May 20-25 and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. Campaign spokesman Dean Ferguson said, “We like it, because it shows that Jim Risch is weak and probably a lot weaker than people think.” Risch is the state’s current lieutenant governor and served briefly as governor when then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was appointed secretary of the Interior. LaRocco is a former two-term 1st District congressman.

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.