Our presumption - as readers of past posts will note - has been that former Idaho Representative Bill Sali, the Republican who lost his seat to Democrat Walt Minnick in 2008, is unlikely to run again next year. So a post suggesting to the contrary brought us up short today.
That post is on the blog of Dennis Mansfield, who has been close to and supporter of Sali. While saying he has nothing against either of two major current contenders, Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador, he says this:
"Here's the 'bomb-drop': It's my call that Bill Sali will throw his hat in the ring in due season and easily crush both of these fine gentlemen. Bill and I are long-time friends...AND we have not...I repeat HAVE NOT talked about a 2010 candidacy run for the Sali Machine. I just sense it in the air ... And when he does announce, visit this site (and another fine site that I will point out at the time.) I know that Bill has a high calling of honor in his life and he sees his service in Congress as time that was providentially directed. Both "in and out" ... And it's my belief that he'll be sensitive to that "call" again for another "in" opportunity. And May 2010 will be his."
Meaning that he figures Sali would win a primary, however contested, next year. Basic rationale: "Sali's got decades of elected service, Labrador has served well in the Idaho House, as well, for a much shorter period. Ward? He served us in the military, and we are thankful, but he decided to leap-frog local service as an elected official, a volunteer, a lobbyist or even a community leader to run for the "big one". Politics is all local...especially in Idaho."
It's a fascinating post, a recommended read.
Of course, any decision by Sali to re-enter would be his and his alone - he has the option to do as he wants. He can file if he chooses; there's certainly no legal reason he can't.
There are other reasons not to, though. His last campaign ended in the red, and such fundraising as he's done this year has barely reached $9,000 (Compare that with Ward's $300,000 or so) and his campaign debt, at most recent report, stood at $112,725. As an incumbent, he lost a seat a Republican should have held easily, and a large swath of Republicans, in jumping on other campaigns (mostly Ward's, but Labrador will no doubt have substantial supporters too), seem to see the need for another standard-bearer. The time for Sali to enter for 2010 would have been early this year; the money and organization he would need to put together a front-running campaign has largely been channeled elsewhere. And remember the Club for Growth, the primary engine of Sali's 2006 primary and general election wins; it has shown no interest in backing him again. Either Ward or Labrador probably would suit them as well, if they chose to become involved.
Either way, we should soon see. If Sali really does intend to get back in, he surely can't hold back much longer.