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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In Idaho’s 1st District, race goes down to wire

BOISE – When an outspoken conservative goes up against a centrist Republican-turned-Democrat, the result is what Idaho is seeing now: a hot race for North Idaho’s seat in Congress. Freshman GOP Rep. Bill Sali is an attorney who likes to say he’s just “an average guy. I live in an average house; I drive an average car.” But he’s also the conservative underdog who defeated five other Republicans in a crowded primary two years ago to get his shot at federal office.

In Idaho’s 1st Distrct, race goes down to wire

BOISE – When an outspoken conservative goes up against a centrist Republican-turned-Democrat, the result is what Idaho is seeing now: a hot race for North Idaho’s seat in Congress. Freshman GOP Rep. Bill Sali is an attorney who likes to say he’s just “an average guy. I live in an average house; I drive an average car.” But he’s also the conservative underdog who defeated five other Republicans in a crowded primary two years ago to get his shot at federal office.

Candidate finance reports out

BOISE – Campaign finance reports are out in legislative races, and a few North Idaho races have seen heavy fundraising. Topping the list is the third-time rematch between Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, and Democratic challenger Steve Elgar of Sandpoint, who lost to Anderson by only a fraction of a percentage point two years ago after a narrow loss in 2004. The two candidates combined have raised $106,345 to campaign this year. Elgar took the prize for the most cash on hand at the close of the campaign finance reporting period on Sept. 30: Nearly $40,000.

Sali aide says misleading ad will be changed

BOISE – A campaign commercial that U.S. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho, has been running since last week attacking Democratic challenger Walt Minnick incorrectly cites a 1993 lawsuit as evidence that Minnick opposes domestic oil drilling – something Minnick says he favors. The lawsuit, Wilderness Society v. Babbitt, had nothing to do with oil drilling. It was about grazing rules in a wildlife refuge.

Sali, Minnick release new round of ads

BOISE – Several political commercials came out last week in the hot race for North Idaho’s seat in Congress, adding charges and countercharges to the mix that voters must process as Election Day approaches. An ad from freshman GOP Rep. Bill Sali calls his Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick, “too liberal for Idaho.” Showing a greasy-haired actor doing a disco dance, the ad says, “Some politicians sure dance to hide their liberal ways.”

Candidates face off for 3rd time

It’s a third-time rematch: Steve Elgar, who lost to Idaho state Rep. Eric Anderson by only a fraction of a percentage point two years ago after a narrow loss in 2004, is challenging the Republican again this year for the third time. “I’ve knocked on 5,000 doors since the first of March,” said Elgar, a Democrat from Sandpoint. “I think we need new public servants in Idaho. … I think that the influence of special interests, big business lobbyists, has gotten out of hand and that they have more influence on our legislators than their constituents do.”

Eskridge, Hollingsworth vie for House Seat 1B

Four-term Idaho state Rep. George Eskridge has focused on energy, veterans issues, property tax relief and the state budget since he began making the annual trip to Boise to represent Bonner and Boundary counties. “I think my tenure in the Legislature and my committee assignments, especially Appropriations, has me in a good position to serve my district well,” said Eskridge, R-Dover. “I just want to go back and continue serving as long as I can be effective.”

Commercials show different sides of Risch

BOISE – Two new political commercials are airing across Idaho in the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Larry Craig. Both come from GOP candidate Jim Risch, but the two have sharply differing tones. The first touts Risch’s prosecutorial experience as an asset in the national financial crisis, while the second launches a direct attack on Risch’s Democratic rival, former Idaho congressman Larry LaRocco.

Train travel could be moving south

BOISE – The nation’s passenger rail service now serves only one city in Idaho – Sandpoint. The entire southern portion of the state has been without Amtrak service ever since the elimination of the Pioneer Route in 1997. But under new legislation approved by Congress, at the urging of Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, Amtrak will start looking into the possibility of restoring service to Southern Idaho.

Bailout split voting surprising

BOISE – It seems that politics makes for odd allies. Debbie Holmes, the Democrat running against 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, points out an odd note in the concern this week over the House’s failed vote on Monday to pass a $700 billion financial bailout bill: While Idaho’s two GOP congressmen split, both of their Democratic challengers agreed with them.

Romney praises Palin, backs fix for economy

BOISE – On the eve of the vice presidential debate, former candidate Mitt Romney touted GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s chances in what’s expected to be a much-watched debate tonight between her and Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden. Romney, who stopped in Boise on Wednesday to campaign for GOP Senate candidate Jim Risch, said, “I’m hopeful that as we watch the debate … that her plain-spoken, common-sense approach will contrast sharply with Joe Biden’s, oh, wallowing in the words of Washington.”

Sali ads begin airing on TV

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.

Sali voted against defense bill

BOISE – Three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation are touting millions in North Idaho projects included in a defense spending bill in Congress – all but North Idaho’s representative. Rep. Bill Sali voted against the bill, despite having supported some of the funding for research at Bayview and the University of Idaho.

Four Senate hopefuls will debate in Idaho

BOISE – Students at the College of Idaho in Caldwell were proud that they’d organized a debate in the race for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s seat that was attracting lots of candidates – but the Republican won’t participate. The college’s Young Democrats and College Republicans were going to co-sponsor the debate, but now that Republican Jim Risch won’t appear, the GOP students decided against co-sponsoring the event, which will go forward with four of the five candidates participating.

Bonner ballots list noncandidate

Lew Langness of Bonners Ferry was a little surprised to get queries about his stands on issues and why he’s running for the Idaho state Senate. “I’m not really a candidate,” Langness said.

Poll results released for Senate race

BOISE – Two different polls are out in Idaho’s U.S. Senate race, the hot race for the open seat created by the retirement of Sen. Larry Craig. But the results are so different as to suggest they were for different races. Independent candidate Rex Rammell last week released results of his poll, conducted from the end of August to Sept. 2, asking 550 likely Idaho voters who they’d choose in the Senate race – after being told the “name, occupation and ages of the three leading candidates.” Rammell is the youngest at age 47; Republican Jim Risch and Democrat Larry LaRocco both are in their 60s. The results: Risch, 40 percent; LaRocco, 30 percent; Rammell, 10 percent; and 20 percent undecided.

Candidates say their race not party politics

BOISE – Both candidates for North Idaho’s seat in Congress are now saying party labels don’t really matter, after Democrat Walt Minnick released a list of 60 “Republicans for Minnick” and GOP incumbent Bill Sali named a Democratic county commissioner as one of his campaign co-chairmen. “We hear from people all the time who are loyal Democrats, don’t like Walt Minnick, don’t like his position on issues and find they have more support on the things they care about from Bill,” said Sali’s campaign spokesman, Wayne Hoffman.

Beware of phone voter registration

BOISE – With the election nearing and campaigns heating up, some Idaho voters have started getting calls from what sound like helpful folks offering to get them registered to vote – but there’s a problem. Idaho doesn’t do voter registration by phone. Instead, the calls may be an identity-theft scam.

Rivals for Craig seat decry GOP tactics

BOISE – Three independent or third-party candidates for Larry Craig’s U.S. Senate seat are reacting angrily to GOP efforts to push them out of the race. In addition to Republican Jim Risch, the lieutenant governor, and Democrat Larry LaRocco, a former two-term 1st District congressman, the race includes two independents and one Libertarian.

Senate candidates’ ads: We are worthy

BOISE – The two major-party candidates for Larry Craig’s U.S. Senate seat have hit the airwaves, each with a television commercial trying to catch the attention of voters statewide and convince them of the candidate’s worthiness to take on the thorny issues facing the nation. Republican Jim Risch’s ad focuses on gas prices, energy policy and Risch’s record as a governor who “just gets things done.” Democrat Larry LaRocco’s ad focuses on the impact on Idaho families of price increases, job losses and declining wages, and LaRocco’s campaign strategy of working a day each at various jobs around the state, from garbage hauler to roofer to nurse’s aide, “working side-by-side with Idahoans.”