Closing ranks

Two years ago, Oregon saw a seriously contested primary contest in its U.S. Senate race (Republican Gordon Smith was defending) between two Democrats, House Speaker Jeff Merkley and activist Steve Novick – they were competitive and the outcome was not foreordained. Partway through, leadership of the Democratic U. S. Senate committee weighed in, making clear that Merkley was their preference. That probably made some difference, certainly in fundraising and organization. It gave Merkley the imprimatur of being the nominee-in-waiting. The national involvement was decried by Novick’s backers. But Merkley wound up winning.

So although only one Idahoan – Representative Mike Simpson – is mentioned in today’s The Hill report on a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Vaughn Ward, it ought to be taken seriously, even moreso than the Democratic lining-up was in Oregon in the last cycle.

Seeking to oust Democratic Representative Walt Minnick, Ward is the guy to beat. The other major contender, state Representative Ken Roberts, has dropped out. Although another state rep, Raul Labrador, says he plans to enter, he will be starting from scratch, while Ward now has an impressive organization, fast-growing support and name familiarity and somewhere around a third of a million dollars, which is likely enough to leverage a good deal more.

The Hill‘s article specifically was about a large-money fundraiser in D.C. The particulars: “House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Deputy NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will all headline a fundraiser for Ward on Dec. 8 in Washington. . . . In addition to the five mentioned, nine other members of Congress are also listed on the invitation. They include the state’s other congressman, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), as well as Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.).”

They’re evidently ready to throw in to wrap this up and move to general election mode. That will be hard for competitors to overcome.

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