BOISE - The Idaho Republican Party is hiring two full-time staffers to spearhead a “parallel campaign” on behalf of newly nominated GOP congressional candidate Raul Labrador, who’s challenging 1st District Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick.
Jonathan Parker, state GOP executive director, said he requested the funds for the two positions from the Republican National Committee, “essentially making the point that you can’t take Idaho for granted and CD 1 for granted, that we’re going to have to do everything in our power and run a competent campaign to unseat Walt Minnick. That’s the plan we’re putting together.”
The two staffers will be a “victory director,” Lindsay Hemmer, who will be based in Boise, and a North Idaho field office head, Jeff Ward, the current president of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans group. Both will start June 8.
Minnick’s campaign manager, John Foster, said, “That sounds like the kind of efforts that have been happening within the Idaho Democratic Party for several election cycles, but I will also say that our campaign has been putting together what we knew Walt would need to win in November, and we’ve been working on that since January.”
He added, “My friend Jonathan Parker obviously understands what everyone has known for a long time, is that this is going to be a ground game. And if it’s won or lost on the ground, I’m quite confident that Walt will be successful in November.”
Minnick was unopposed in last week’s primary election, but Labrador won a contest in which he upset Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward, despite Ward’s big fundraising lead and nine-month head start on campaigning. However, according to the latest campaign finance reports, Labrador had just $35,919 on hand for his campaign as of May 5, while Minnick had $935,828.
Parker said the two new staffers will be “100 percent paid for by the Idaho Republican Party” - with money from the RNC - and not by the Labrador campaign. They will be “tasked with helping the GOP reclaim the 1st Congressional District by using the tools of the Idaho Republican Party to essentially run a parallel campaign against Walt Minnick.”
Labrador, who is in transition from a team of volunteers who ran his primary campaign to a new team, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.