Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, seeking to buck the odds and the national mood in his conservative Idaho district, was bolstered this week by a strong new fund-raising report and an upgrade in his re-election prospects by a leading political forecaster.
A prime target in a midterm election that many expect to produce major GOP gains, the first-term incumbent raised $410,000 during the April-to-June quarter, bringing his total for the 2010 midterm race to $1.9 million, according to his campaign. And roughly $1.1 million of the money is in the bank.
CQ Politics, citing in part the conservative Democrat's fund-raising success, announced Thursday it was shifting the race from a "tossup" to "leaning Democrat." Mr. Minnick's opponent, immigration lawyer and state legislator Raul Labrador, upset highly touted Vaughn Ward, a favorite of the Republican Party establishement, in last month's GOP primary.
The strong financial report is the latest boost for Mr. Minnick, a former businessman who was elected with under 51 percent of the vote in 2008. The one poll taken to date in the race showed Mr. Labrador with a 12 percentage point lead, with 30 percent undecided, but many expect a closer contest in November.
Mr. Labrador has yet to release second-quarter numbers. He reported $173,712 for the first quarter, compared to $1.5 million for Mr. Minnick, according to federal filings.
Despite the national anti-incumbent mood, Mr. Minnick's strategy of running as a fiscal conservative has garnered him key endorsements from the Tea Party Express and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as favorable ratings for a Democrat with the National Rife Association and the anti-tax Club for Growth.
"Walt's getting broad support and he's working hard," Minnick spokesman John Foster said Thursday. "The numbers are a good indication of both."
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