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VanderSloot endorses Marco Rubio, will raise $$ for his campaign

Idaho billionaire Frank VanderSloot today endorsed Republican Marco Rubio for president and said he plans to raise money for the Florida senator's presidential bid. VanderSloot told the Associated Press he believes Rubio is “the brightest of the bunch."

VanderSloot was one of Mitt Romney’s national finance co-chairs in the 2012 presidential race, raising at least $2 million for the campaign and also donating $1.1 million to a pro-Romney super-PAC. VanderSloot said he and his wife gave $50,000 in June to the Conservative Solutions PAC, which is backing Rubio's campaign.

VanderSloot also has donated $2,700 to Carly Fiorina’s GOP presidential campaign; he told AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi that Fiorina was a close second, but he decided she lacks Rubio’s charisma. "Marco Rubio has a big edge on Carly Fiorina on the likeability factor," VanderSloot said. "He is just so dang likable." You can read Kruesi’s full report here.

Risch endorses Marco Rubio for president

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch from Idaho says he's throwing his support behind fellow GOP Sen. Marco Rubio for president. Risch announced his endorsement of the Florida politician on Wednesday. Risch says he's been impressed with Rubio's communication skills and understanding of serious issues while working together in the U.S. Senate. The support from Risch, a former Idaho governor, comes on the heels of also receiving endorsements earlier this week from Republican U.S. Sens. Steve Daines from Montana and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

In a Rubio campaign press release, Risch said, "Having worked with Senator Rubio since his early days in the Senate, I have been greatly impressed with his understanding and quick grasp of the serious issues that arise here. Notably, his communication skills, which are so important in this business, are unparalleled. Marco brings a fresh view to the many challenges facing America today, domestically with our serious financial problems and internationally with our security and standing on the world stage both dramatically deteriorating. I enthusiastically support Senator Rubio in his campaign for the presidency."

Rubio campaign taps state Controller Woolf as Idaho chair; Kasich campaign taps Hagedorn

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio on Wednesday selected Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf to serve as state chairman for the campaign. Woolf says the Florida senator has a conservative vision that is needed in America and admires the Republican's leadership. Rubio is among more than a dozen Republicans seeking the party's nomination. The candidate made a campaign stop in Idaho earlier this year, and has been named a favorite of Idaho's mega-donor Frank VanderSloot. Idaho recently moved up its presidential primary election to March 8, with the hopes of making its 32 GOP delegates more relevant in the upcoming election.

Last week, the John Kasich presidential campaign named its Idaho campaign co-chairman: Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. Hagedorn is a second-term state senator who served three terms in the House; he’s retired from the U.S. Navy. Kasich is the governor of Ohio.

Marco Rubio to address Idaho GOP in Idaho Falls in June

The Idaho Republican Party doesn’t have a statement about the upcoming special session; party executive director David Johnston said the party has no comment. But they do have other news: Marco Rubio will be the keynote speaker at the party’s summer central committee meeting in Idaho Falls, which is June 5. Johnston said the Rubio appearance is “three firsts”: It’s the first time a presidential candidate has come to speak at the Idaho GOP’s summer meeting; it’s the first public appearance by a presidential candidate in Idaho this election cycle; and it’s the earliest in the campaign cycle that a GOP presidential candidate has visited the state.

Idaho GOP Chairman Stephen Yates said, “He will be a compelling speaker whose message fits well with the theme of our meeting, which is faith and family. We are honored to have Sen. Rubio visit Idaho and share his vision with us.”

Rubio actually came through Idaho in April, too, with private stops in Idaho Falls and Boise, but no public appearances. “Technically, he wasn’t a declared candidate at that point,” Johnston said.

The summer central committee meeting will be held at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls June 5-6; ticket information and details are on the Idaho GOP website here.

Popkey: Media Discovers Labrador

It’s been a busy week for Congressman Raul Labrador’s spokesman. Three times, Michael Tate has alerted reporters that major new outlets have — for the umpteenth time — hailed his boss as a key player on immigration reform. On Friday, Tate circulated a cut-and-paste of the latest subscription-only story in National Journal. Headlined “Don’t Call Him Marco Rubio,” reporter Tim Alberta quotes a House GOP aide as saying Labrador is “more important to getting (immigration reform) passed through Congress than Marco Rubio” because of his influence with conservatives. Rubio, of course, is the telegenic Cuban-American senator from Florida and presidential prospect/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Is it good or bad for Idaho's image that the national media are spotlighting Congressman Raul Labrador?

Labrador Makes Yahoo! Tea Party List

In this Nov. 3 file photo, Raul Labrador is show moments before he talked with supporters at the Republican Party Election Headquarters at a hotel in Boise. At the time, the outcome of his race against Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick for Idaho's 1st Congressional District was undecided. Now, Labrador is listed among the Top 5 Tea Party candidates of 2010 by Yahoo! News political blog, The Ticket. Story here. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

Question: Are you comfortable that new U.S. Rep.  Raul Labrador, R-Idaho,  is considered to be one of the top Tea Party representatives in Congress?

Tea Partiers Paul, Rubio Score Wins

The Tea Party scored major victories in an election dominated by U.S. economic woes. Republican Marco Rubio is projected to win the Florida Senate race by a wide margin and GOP candidate Rand Paul will win the Kentucky Senate race, according to ABC News exit-poll projections. One of the most high-profile races of the day, however, appears to be less favorable for the Tea Party. GOP Delaware candidate Christine O’ Donnell, who received the most news coverage of the 2010 candidates, will lose to Democrat Chris Coons, ABC News projections show/Huma Kahn, ABC World News. More here.

Question: How do you think the Tea Party will do tonight?