BOISE - Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has a million-dollar cash advantage over Republican challenger Raul Labrador as the campaign for November’s general election kicks into gear this summer.
The latest campaign finance reports in the 1st District congressional race show Labrador raised $101,616 from May 6 to June 30, spent $78,246, and has $68,789 on hand for his campaign. Minnick raised $291,966 during the same period, spent $93,778, and had $1,139,111 in cash at the close of the fundraising period. That puts Minnick’s cash edge over Labrador at $1.07 million.
“I’ve been outspent before, and I’ve beaten people who outspent me and outraised me before, so it doesn’t concern me one bit,” Labrador declared Friday.
He was the upset winner in the May GOP primary election, knocking off front-runner Vaughn Ward, who outspent Labrador by 3-1, but stumbled badly in the final weeks of the campaign with embarrassing revelations about plagiarism and other missteps.
Minnick’s campaign manager, John Foster, said the freshman Democratic lawmaker has seen his support increase in recent months. “There has been a strong movement of support for Walt’s campaign over the last couple of months, as is evidenced by the amount raised,” he said. “And it’s coming from not so much a partisan way, but kind of the folks who create jobs and run businesses and help keep this economy moving are recognizing Walt’s strength as a congressman and they want to support him as a candidate.”
Minnick’s latest finance report reads like a who’s-who of Idaho business leaders, with contributions including $2,400 from Micron Technology CEO Steve Appleton; $2,000 from Empire Airlines President and CEO Tim Komberec; $500 from Moscow lumberman Frank Bennett; $2,400 from Stein Distributing owner Keith Stein; and $1,000 from Nampa developer Ronald Van Auker.
All were new donors to Minnick since the primary and have records of donating to Republicans in the past; Bennett, Stein and Van Auker were substantial donors to Ward earlier. Bennett donated $500 to Ward last September; Stein gave $500 to Ward in April; and Van Auker contributed $3,000 to Ward in 2009.
Labrador, for his part, attracted five of Ward’s major donors, receiving contributions in June including $4,800 from Paul and Lorna Finman of Post Falls, who gave $5,100 to Ward in 2009; $1,000 from state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, a Ward supporter who donated $250 to Ward in 2009; $4,400 from Albertson’s grocery heir J.B. Scott, who earlier gave Ward the same amount; and $500 from Brent Regan of Coeur d’Alene, who donated $2,000 to Ward last September.
“I have talked to quite a few of them and many of them are getting on board,” Labrador said. “I have tried to be very respectful … I didn’t call them right away. I thought it was important for people to heal and have time to move forward, and now many of them are coming on.”
Foster said Minnick, a conservative “blue dog” Democrat, was glad to attract some former Ward supporters. “We’re very pleased, and I think there’ll be more in the coming months,” he said.
Labrador’s fundraising report showed a long list of GOP state lawmakers making donations; Labrador is a second-term state representative from Eagle.
Minnick’s report included a slew of contributors from the San Francisco Bay area; Foster said Minnick, a former timber products CEO, has business contacts and extended family in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley and held a fundraiser in June in San Francisco.
Foster said 45 percent of Minnick’s donors in the second quarter of this year were new, 66 percent of his individual contributors since the last election were Idahoans and half his total fundraising for the quarter came from Idaho.
Minnick raised $136,200 in May and June from political action committees like the American Bankers Association PAC, the AT&T Federal PAC and J.R. Simplot Co. PAC, plus $5,520 from political party committees.
Labrador had just three PAC contributions - from PACs run by Mitt Romney, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson - totaling $14,500, and no party committee donations.
Labrador also loaned his campaign another $10,000, for a total outstanding campaign debt to the candidate of $30,000. Minnick’s campaign owes Minnick $250,000, all from his 2008 campaign.