BOISE – Seven weeks after his Democratic challenger started airing frequent TV campaign commercials throughout the district, incumbent 1st District Rep. Bill Sali came out with his first TV ad last week.
The campaign commercial, which touts Sali’s votes against numerous tax and spending bills in congress, closes with, “Republican Bill Sali, the conservative for Congress, to change Congress.” Initially it started running only in the Boise market, but campaign spokesman Wayne Hoffman said it eventually will air throughout the district.
The footage in the ad may look familiar: Hoffman confirmed that the footage used in the new campaign ad is the same footage Sali used in his campaign ads when he first ran two years ago, with different narration. “It’s good footage,” Hoffman said. “That’s no big deal.”
Hoffman declined to comment on why Sali waited until now to hit the airwaves; the incumbent’s fundraising has lagged far behind that of his challenger, Walt Minnick, but Hoffman said it’s picking up.
The ad’s message, Hoffman said, is, “He’s a conservative who’s kept his word about the need to cut government spending, lower taxes and change the way Congress does business.” The ad’s claims that Sali has been “fighting over $1 trillion in higher spending” and did “battle against over $700 billion in higher taxes” are based on Sali’s request to the Congressional Research Service for a total dollar value of all the tax and spending bills he voted against.
Some of those passed, some didn’t. They included such legislation as the annual budget resolution and a measure to expand children’s health insurance, which Sali opposed because it included a cigarette tax increase.
Minnick, who has had multiple ads about his candidacy running across the district for weeks, unveiled a new one this week that, for the first time, adds criticism of the incumbent to touts of Minnick’s qualifications and positions. Noting Sali’s problems with campaign finance reports, campaign debts and more, the ad closes with, “If Bill Sali can’t manage his own money, we shouldn’t trust him with ours.”
Idaho Dems file FEC complaint against Risch
The Idaho Democratic Party says it’s requesting a federal investigation of a mailing sent out by GOP Senate candidate Jim Risch that they charge violates federal election laws, a complaint Risch’s campaign promptly dismissed as baseless.
The complaint involves a mailing from Idaho Right to Life Inc., allegedly sent with the nonprofit’s bulk mailing permit and return address but containing solicitation letters from Risch and Right to Life activist Kerry Uhlenkott, and indicating that copying of the letters was paid for by Risch for Senate, but postage was paid by Right to Life.
The Democrats charged that the postage for the mailing constitutes an illegal use of tax-exempt funds and an improper corporate contribution to Risch’s campaign.
Matt Ellsworth, campaign director for Risch, said that while the nonprofit Idaho Right to Life bulk-mailing permit stamp appeared on the fundraising solicitation, the Risch campaign actually paid for the mailing, at the full political rate, paying the difference between that and the nonprofit rate. “We paid directly to the mail house,” Ellsworth said. “We don’t own a bulk mail permit stamp.”
Ellsworth dismissed the Democrats’ complaint as “desperate” and “nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”
Why they’d need cross-party support
Some have questioned why candidates on both sides in the 1st District congressional race have been claiming cross-party support, asking why any Idaho candidate who’s a Republican would be need that when the R’s hold such an overwhelming advantage in the state.
Here’s why: There’s no political party with which a majority of Idaho voters identify. This year’s BSU Public Policy Survey found that 40 percent of Idahoans say they’re Republicans (down 4 percent from 2007), 28 percent say they’re independent (down 3 percent from a year earlier), and 25 percent say they’re Democrats (up 7 percent from 2007). Libertarians were at 1 percent; the remaining 6 percent were other, don’t know, or refused. That means any party candidate needs support from not just fellow partisans to win majority support in Idaho – support from independents and/or members of the opposite party also is required.
More bad economic news
It just keeps coming. Now, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has reported that Idaho’s personal income growth lagged behind the national rate in the second quarter of 2008.
“Total personal income in Idaho grew 1.6 percent during the second quarter of 2008 solely on the strength of investment earnings and transfer payments like Social Security, unemployment insurance and pensions,” the Idaho Department of Labor reported, based on the latest federal analysis. “Net earnings – the money paid to workers and the profits taken by business proprietors – contributed nothing to the increase in personal income from the first quarter. A slight rise in wages was completely offset by a decline in proprietors’ income in another sign of the state’s weakening economy.”
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