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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Vaughn Ward

Vaughn Ward takes his lumps. Are they deserved?

Talking Points Memo, a liberal news blog, has hung the title of worst candidate ever on Vaughn Ward, who is running in the GOP primary in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

In part, it’s due to a video that shows Ward saying some of the same things another young politician said in 2004. So what, you say, politicians borrow each other’s lines all the time? Well, the young politician was Barack Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention, so that’s not a good thing for someone running in a Republican primary in Idaho. It also lists some of Ward’s other mistakes, many chronicled expertly by colleague Betsy Russell at Eye on Boise.

But it seems TPM is picking on Ward and, by extension, Idaho, just a bit. I mean really, worst ever? On the same page, they mention that J.D. Hayworth, running for the Senate in the Arizona Republican primary, insisted that the United States didn’t declare war on Nazi Germany in 1941, and that’s probably even in history books in Texas. And then his staff tried to parse history in such a way that well, you could argue we did or we didn’t, so no one’s really right or wrong on this point.

And Richard Blumenthal, running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, lied about serving in Vietnam and being captain of the Harvard swim team — two things that are so easy to check it’s amazing it took reporters so long to call him out on them. And he’s the state’s attorney general for gosh sakes. Compared to that, cribbing from Obama (who is, after all a good speaker; even John McCain said so) and suggesting Puerto Rico is a country might be small potatoes.

Washington has it’s share of bad candidates too, like Robert Tilden Medley, a U.S. Senate candidate who wanted to deport all immigrants, send all African Americans to Africa and fund AIDS research by charging gay men to have sex. (Spin Control is not making this up; we don’t have that good of an imagination.)

The title of the worst candidate ever would have to be decided by a playoff with brackets, sort of like the NCAA basketball championship, with divisions for local, state, congressional and presidential.

Who would you put as the top seed in one or more of those brackets for the worst candidate competition?

Idaho 1st in the spotlight in 2010?

Most years, Idaho’s congressional races inspire yawns among the nation’s political cognoscenti. It’s likely 2010 will not be one of those years.

Idaho’s sprawling 1st District House race is at or near the top of several lists of races to watch in the mid-term election. Washington, D.C., publications like Congress Daily and the Hill both flagged it last month, as did the Rothenburg Report, and it’s on top of the “Swing State Prospect” list of races featuring a Democrat – Walt Minnick – in a Republican-leaning district.

This comes as no surprise, considering The Hill put Minnick at the top of its “most vulnerable” list the day he was sworn in. No points, apparently, for beating freshman Republican Bill Sali in 2008 and becoming the first Democrat to hold the seat in bright red Idaho since 1994.

In the six months since, Minnick has attempted to put as much distance as possible between himself and House Democratic leadership. He voted against the stimulus package in February, the AIG package in March and cap and trade last month. As of last week, he was at the top of another list, the Washington Post’s tabulation of Democrats who don’t vote with their party leadership.

His earliest and best-organized Republican challenger is Vaughn Ward, a candidate with so much going for him one might think the National Republican Congressional Committee ordered him from central casting. He’s a photogenic 40, with an attractive wife and two cute kids; grew up in Twin Falls, worked on the family farm in Shoshone, is a Marine Corps Reserves major, worked for the CIA in the Middle East and Africa, and as a legislative aide for Dirk Kempthorne and Nevada state campaign official for John McCain’s presidential run. He’s already snagged McCain’s endorsement as well as some other GOP notables.
   Ward is understandably happy to find Minnick on the lists of most vulnerable…

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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