Politics & Government

Palin fathers will campaign for Idaho Republican candidate

WASHINGTON — The fathers of Sarah and Todd Palin will be joining forces this month to help an Idaho congressional candidate who's getting an early start on his 2010 election bid.

Both Chuck Heath and Jim Palin will be in Idaho later on this month to help out Vaughn Ward, a Republican candidate for Congress. They’ll be attending events for Ward at the end of the month in Boise and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Ward's campaign spokesman said.

The former Alaska governor's father is an Idaho native who graduated from Sandpoint High School in northern Idaho. Palin, Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate last year, is herself is a 1987 graduate of the University of Idaho.

Ward is a 40-year-old veteran of the Iraq War who worked on Dirk Kempthorne's staff when Kempthorne was a senator from Idaho. Most recently, Ward worked for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign in Nevada. He also has secured McCain’s endorsement.

Ward is challenging a Democrat, Rep. Walt Minnick, who himself unseated a one-term Republican last year. Minnick has one of the most conservative voting records in his own party — he has voted with Democrats just 64 percent of the time, according to a Washington Post database of congressional votes.

Although several Republicans have entered the race already, Ward has emerged as a favorite of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He also has been an effective fundraiser, bringing in $70,000 between April and June, for a total of about $120,000 so far. It’s nowhere near Minnick’s campaign war chest, however. Minnick raised $718,000 for the 2010 election and had about $481,000 in cash on hand as of June 30.

Idaho House Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of McCall also has announced he is running for the seat, as is another Republican, Dr. Allan Salzberg of Boise. Bill Sali, who was unseated by Minnick, has also indicated some interest in another bid for office, but has made no official announcement.

Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, which runs along western Idaho from the border of Canada to Nevada, is among the most conservative in the nation. McCain carried 62 percent of voters in the district last November, a drop from 2004, when President George W. Bush won with 69 percent of the vote. Minnick won the district with just 51 percent of the vote in 2008.