Labrador gears up campaign, rivals lag
North Idaho’s freshman GOP congressman Raul Labrador has geared up his re-election campaign, according to the latest campaign finance reports, while his prospective opponents haven’t.
Labrador’s pulling in PAC money and donations from prominent Idahoans, while his little-known GOP primary opponent hasn’t raised a penny; nor has the Libertarian, the Independent, or one of the two Democratic hopefuls, the reports show.
The exception: Democrat Jimmy Farris, a former professional football player and Lewiston native, who’s raised $25,904 since he entered the race in October, including $13,909 in the first three months of 2012. Farris’ primary opponent, former Boise physician Cynthia Clinkingbeard, didn’t file a campaign finance report; she was arrested for aggravated assault last month after pulling a gun on employees at a Staples store.
Labrador has raised a total of $461,311 since the start of 2011, including $260,480 from individuals and $198,175 from PACs; he’s spent $300,967 and has $200,339 cash on hand for the upcoming campaign.
Farris’ fundraising in the first quarter of 2012 included a $500 donation from linebacker Bryan Scott of the Buffalo Bills. His spending during the quarter included travel, a database service, a campaign staffer and $1,500 for research by Idaho pollster Greg Smith; he had $7,924 on hand at the close of the reporting period.
Labrador now has two full-time campaign staffers, political director China Gum and Labrador’s wife, Becca, whose duties include keeping the books and paying the bills.
The congressman also has brought on local and national fundraising consultants and spent more than $6,000 in February on direct mail.
“We’re in full campaign mode,” Gum said. “We’re just trying to stay focused. We’re not thinking about other things that may be happening in the race. We’re just making sure that Raul is supported, the campaign is supported the way it needs to be so we can get his message out there.”
Labrador’s GOP primary opponent is Reed McCandless of Moscow, who couldn’t be reached for comment; the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that he is a 50-year-old truck driver. Also running against Labrador are Libertarian Rob Oates of Caldwell, a former city councilman; and Independent “Pro-Life,” formerly known as Marvin Richardson, an organic strawberry farmer from near Emmett; none reported any fundraising.
In the first quarter of this year, Labrador raised $79,668 from individuals, including $2,000 from Todd Brinkmeyer of Post Falls, president of Plummer Forest Products; $1,000 from Harry Bettis of Emmett; $3,500 from Dynamis Energy CEO Lloyd Mahaffey of Eagle; and $5,000 from George and Mary Gersema of Eagle. His individual contributions for the period actually exceeded those of longtime 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, who raised $41,747 from individuals. However, Simpson raised nearly twice as much as Labrador from PACs.
Labrador pulled in $34,500 from PACs in the first quarter, with the largest donation $10,000 from House Majority Whip Erik Cantor’s “Every Republican Is Crucial” PAC. Koch Industries Inc. PAC gave Labrador $1,500 during the quarter, for a total of $9,000 for the election cycle to date.
Other PACs supporting Labrador included tobacco maker Altria Group Inc., which gave $1,000 for the quarter and $4,000 to date; the National Beer Wholesalers PAC, which gave $5,000; and PriceWaterhouseCoopers PAC, which gave $2,000 for the quarter and $4,000 to date.
In 2011, Labrador also drew donations from several residents of Puerto Rico, where he was born and where he held a campaign fundraiser; and from nine American Indian tribes, including three in Idaho.