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Minnick collects $231K in U.S. House race

by Jessie L. Bonner
| April 17, 2010 9:00 PM

BOISE - Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick has collected more than $231,000 for his campaign coffers since January and outraised his GOP rivals in the traditionally Republican-dominated district along Idaho's western border.

The first-term House member has $889,082 in cash on hand after taking in $231,916 for his campaign coffers from Jan. 1 to March 31, a Federal Election Commission report filed late Thursday shows.

The leading GOP fundraiser is Vaughn Ward, a former campaign aide to Republican presidential contender John McCain and a retired U.S. Marine who served in Iraq.

Ward brought in $167,610 - including $400 from Sarah Palin's relatives - and reported $289,844 in cash on hand.

The former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee endorsed Ward on her Facebook page in late March. Her father- and mother-in-law, Jim and Faye Palin, of Wasilla, Alaska, donated $200 apiece to Ward's 1st Congressional District campaign in March, bringing their total contributions during the 2010 election cycle to a combined $1,200.

While Minnick's collections were down about $42,000 from the previous quarter, his totals continue to overshadow those of his would-be Republican challengers who are gearing up for next month's GOP primary.

His spokesman, John Foster, attributed the slight decrease in donations to three "busy and intense" months in Congress, which included the health care overhaul and left Minnick little time to campaign.

"Walt spent a lot of time just doing his job for the people of Idaho," Foster said.

Minnick beat former Republican Rep. Bill Sali in November 2008 and is uncontested in the 2010 primary. He has brought in more than $1.5 million during the 2010 election cycle.

Ward has collected about $518,000, according to his campaign, and said 70 percent of his 1,100 donors are from Idaho. Minnick's cash advantage has been bolstered, in part, because of his status as an incumbent, Ward said.

"He's got the backing of his party, it is a massive machine that they have," Ward said. "But for us, it's about Idaho, it's about the grassroots fundraising that we've done."

Other contenders in the GOP primary include state Rep. Raul Labrador, who brought in $35,763 and has $83,527 in cash on hand. Campaign finance reports for the three other GOP candidates, Michael Chadwick of Post Falls, Harley Brown of Idaho City and Allan Salzberg of Boise, were not available.

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