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Labrador moves campaign office to Boise

MONDAY, AUG. 2, 2010, 12:12 P.M.

BOISE — U.S. House hopeful Raul Labrador’s cash-strapped campaign has moved to downtown Boise to conserve resources, setting up a new headquarters outside the congressional district he wants to represent.

The penny-saving move underscores Labrador’s difficulty in fundraising compared to his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, who has more than $1 million on hand and holds a 16-to-1 cash advantage.

Labrador, a two-term Republican state lawmaker, opened his campaign headquarters in Eagle in June, a month after he upset decorated Iraq veteran Vaughn Ward to clinch the Idaho primary in late May.

Labrador is now challenging Minnick for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat, though his new campaign home at the GOP Victory office in downtown Boise is in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.

The boundary dividing the districts cuts through the western half of Idaho’s capital city, which is the state’s most populous and has long provided office space for its top elected officials.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Labrador’s campaign said they will have an office in the 1st Congressional District “when Raul is elected to U.S. Congress.”

Minnick’s campaign is headquartered in western Boise and shares satellite offices in Canyon and Kootenai counties. His congressional office is based in Meridian, with additional offices in Canyon County, Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene.

Labrador’s camp says the downtown Boise office will allow them to work as a team with other Republican candidates. The campaign reported about $68,700 in cash on hand in mid-July and Labrador was in Washington, D.C. on a fundraising trip last week. The trip included a breakfast hosted by Republicans in Idaho’s congressional delegation Thursday.

Between 20 and 25 people came to the event at The Capitol Hill Club, Labrador said.

“It went really well,” Labrador said. “It was a pretty good amount, but we won’t know for several weeks.”

It wasn’t clear if everybody paid the $500 to $2,500 asking price for a plate.

That’s because a fundraising consultant for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, a sponsor of the event, sent out a last-minute press release entitled “urgent request from senator mike crapo!!!”

The request said the breakfast was “technically a fundraiser, but if you could swing by just to meet him, we would be most appreciative. This is a seat we can pick up and we are grateful for your willingness to consider contributing.”

Joe Maiellano, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant for Labrador who organized the breakfast, declined to comment on whether people were allowed to attend the fundraising function without paying money.

Labrador said he’s not worried about any fundraising disadvantage against Minnick and downplayed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s move to contribute nearly $300,000 in an independent expenditure aimed at furthering Minnick’s re-election chances.

“We’re going to have sufficient funding to win this race, and that’s why Walt Minnick is running scared,” Labrador told The AP “If he was doing so well, why would they (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) waste their money.”

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