It's been a tough couple of weeks for Republican Raul Labrador and his campaign for Congress. In early July, Walt Minnick, the Democratic congressman looking to win a second term in office, announced that he brought in $410,000 between May 6 and June 30, and that he had more than $1.1 in cash on hand. Then, in the past two weeks, two national publications have reclassified the Minnick/Labrador contest from "toss-up" to "leans Democratic." CQ and RealClearPolitics both changed their ratings on the race, due largely to the money advantage the Democrat has in the race. Other factors, such as an internal poll released by the Labrador campaign last week, could have also contributed to the changes for the two publications.
CQ went first in switching its rating and said that Republicans might have a harder time ousting Minnick than they previously thought. "But Minnick (D) is proving to be an especially tough nut to crack, even in a very Republican-friendly election environment," wrote John McArdle for CQ. "With Minnick’s impressive second-quarter contribution total and the primary election loss of the national Republicans’ preferred candidate, CQ-Roll Call is changing the rating in the 1st district from Tossup to the less-competitive category of Leans Democratic." McArdle referred to the primary election loss of Republican Vaughn Ward, who had a steep fundraising edge over Labrador as well as several high-profile national endorsements.
RealClearPolitics changed its rating of the race Wednesday. Here's Sean Trende, writer for RealClearPolitics, said about the contest:
This is pretty counter-intuitive given the heavy Republican tilt of the district, but Democrat Walt Minnick has an extremely conservative voting record. Moreover, his GOP opponent, Raul Labrador, is an ally of former Rep. Bill Sali, who was controversial enough to lose to Minnick in 2008. Labrador closed the Second Quarter with $60, 000 cash-on-hand to Minnick's $1.8M. This race looks like a leans Democrat race for now, not a tossup.
Labrador's campaign released a poll late last week indicating that Minnick holds a 10-point lead in the contest among 300 likely voters in Idaho's 1st Congressional District. An aide to Labrador said that due to the high percentage of respondents in the poll declaring themselves "undecided," Labrador can win if he raises his public profile and name recognition. The Labrador campaign raised just more than $100,000 between May 6 and June 30, and has $69,000 cash on hand.
The Labrador campaign suffered an additional setback Wednesday when the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released its updated list of "Young Guns," or compilation of names of Republican candidates the NRCC considers viable in fall's general elections. Notably absent among the 33 added Wednesday was Labrador. Ward was on the NRCC's original list of "Young Guns."
Labrador and Minnick face off in November's general election.