Former Coeur d’Alene restaurant owner Tom Sullivan, now an eastern Idaho resident and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, will return to his former establishment in North Idaho on Friday for a free campaign benefit concert featuring Too Slim and the Taildraggers. The former Tubbs Cafe at 313 Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive is now O’Shays, where the concert will take place in the beer garden. “It’s a wonderful place that we have a lot of very fond memories from,” Sullivan said. “We hope that people will contribute to the campaign, but it’s a free concert.”
Sullivan, 42, is making his first run for elective office, challenging U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo. Sullivan easily defeated William Bryk, a Brooklyn lawyer who’d never been to Idaho, in the Democratic primary; Bryk said he just didn’t want a U.S. senator to go unchallenged, as Crapo did six years ago but for a write-in.
Sullivan, whose North Idaho restaurant-business stint ended with a failed sale and bankruptcy, has since built a credit-card processing business in eastern Idaho, which he says is “a very strong and competent organization” with three employees, despite reversals in 2008 that left him struggling with a big debt to the IRS, now down to $150,000 from an earlier $600,000.
Sullivan said a few years ago, he attended the Idaho Democratic Party’s Frank Church banquet and was “somewhat vocal” about how someone should run against Crapo; later, he said, the party asked him to run. Party officials said they didn’t know then about Sullivan’s tax issues, but party executive director Jim Hansen said, “He’s worked it out.”
“I accepted the task of running for the United States Senate to give the people a choice,” Sullivan said. “I am not a politician. I’ve been running businesses for the last 20 years, and I believe I offer a common-sense approach to solving problems.” Sullivan’s “Soundwaves for Democracy” party at O’Shay’s on Friday will run from 8 to 10 p.m.