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Minnick Won’t Pac Up Senate Bid Challenger’s Campaign Lags Behind Craig $4-$1 In Funds

He has Rolling Stone Chairman Jann Wenner, ABC Chairman Stanley Weiss and White House budget chief Alice Rivlin in his financial camp.

Walt Minnick, the Democrat who hopes to win one of Idaho’s U.S. Senate seats from Republican Larry Craig, also received money from Runners World publisher George Hirsch.

A slew of people from Wall Street investment firms are sending checks to his campaign. So is home-grown influence like Lewiston Morning Tribune publisher A.J. Alford, according to an analysis of campaign finance reports of candidates for Idaho’s U.S. House and Senate races.

Rivlin was on the board of directors of TJ International, the Boise timber products company Minnick used to run. Hirsch is a family friend and Weiss is an acquaintance from business circles. The rest are people Minnick went to school with or knows socially, his campaign said.

Despite this and other contributions from around the country, Minnick raised only about $1 for every $4 Craig raised by the end of 1995. By the end of 1995, Minnick had $233,261 in contributions to Craig’s $888,614.

And despite Minnick’s impressive diversity of connections, he draws from a much smaller pool than his opponent. During the first six months of 1995 - the latest analysis available - more than 80 percent of the individuals who gave $200 or more to Craig’s campaign were from out of state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Minnick hasn’t taken any money from political action committees. But that will change if Craig doesn’t accept Minnick’s challenge to run this race without “special-interest” PAC money. Minnick also is willing to abandon plans to use $500,000 of his own money if Craig gives up PAC dollars.

It’s unlikely Craig will accept. He discarded the special-interest label for PAC money when asked about Minnick’s challenge on a radio show last week, the Associated Press reported.

PAC money is a way for the working men and women of Idaho to pool their contributions, Craig said.

“I’ve always had a very difficult time thinking that was special interest,” Craig said. “I’ve always thought that was Idaho’s interest speaking out in support of the candidate they wanted to see elected.”

There are a lot more than Idahoans speaking for Craig’s financial well-being, according to reports filed with the FEC. The Republican National Committee is his single largest financial fan, to the tune of $17,500, and the Republican Majority Fund gave $5,000.

The California-based president of Homestake Mining Co. gave $1,000.

Texas oil executives donated from $325 to $1,000 each. A Beverly Hills, Calif., tire distributor gave $850 in 1995, the owner of an Arizona pumice mine was in for $1,000.

A retired airline pilot in Georgia ponied up $850.

And there are dozens of more similar stories of out-of-staters giving Craig dollars. Then there are a healthy slug of out-of-state PAC contributions $5,000 from the National Cable Television PAC and another $5,000 from the National Automobile Dealers.

The Free Cuba PAC found $2,500 for Craig and the Colorado-based Thompson Creek Metals PAC sent in $5,000.

Southern California Edison employees contributed $2,000. Oil and timber companies were in for thousands more.

All told, Craig starts the year with $600,000 on hand, and the obvious advantages of name recognition and the power of incumbent fund raising.

Minnick acknowledges he likely will need his personal wealth to make even a serious run at Craig.

“Any challenger who’s not Ross Perot or Steve Forbes is the financial underdog,” Minnick said.

That’s because “the campaign finance laws are clearly stacked in favor of incumbents, in part because only incumbents vote on them.”

, DataTimes