BOISE – A Democratic candidate for Congress in Idaho says he’s learned a lesson, after he didn’t actively campaign during his primary race and ended up with only a 5 percentage point lead over a mentally ill candidate who’s facing felony charges.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” said Jimmy Farris, a Lewiston native and former NFL football player. “We made a conscious decision not to campaign against her. … We chose not to debate or do anything that would really put her situation kind of in the public or highlight it more than it already was.”
Cynthia Clinkingbeard, a former physician who lost her medical license in 2005 due to issues related to her bipolar disorder, took 47 percent of the vote in Idaho’s Democratic primary last week for the 1st Congressional District, while Farris got 53 percent. She won four of the five northernmost counties: Kootenai, Bonner, Benewah and Boundary.
Farris will run against first-term GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who got more than 80 percent of the vote against a little-known opponent in the GOP primary.
“I’ve always been better in the second half anyways,” Farris said.
Clinkingbeard was arrested in March, shortly after filing to run for Congress, for allegedly pulling a gun on employees at a Staples store; she’s facing four felony charges. An Ada County judge has ordered a mental evaluation and set a review in court for June 6.
Clinkingbeard did not campaign after her arrest and hasn’t spoken publicly.
Farris, who now lives in the Boise area, said he didn’t do “any real campaigning in the northern part of the state especially” during the primary campaign.
“I think … it was a mistake on our part, not to really actively campaign as if there was a primary,” Farris said Monday. “I chose to try to protect her privacy as much as possible.”
Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor of public policy, said, “Apparently, a considerable amount of the voters didn’t know either candidate,” and just picked a name.
Weatherby said it was unlikely that Republicans sought to make mischief in the Democratic primary by voting for Clinkingbeard. “There was too much action in the Republican primaries,” he said.
Labrador had no comment. His campaign spokeswoman, China Gum, said, “We didn’t really pay any attention to anything else that was going on in anybody else’s races.”