Vaughn Ward's early fundraising edge, and his Palin connections

Vaughn Ward's latest fundraising report illustrates something that some insiders are already saying. The relative unknown is serious about his race in Idaho's 1st Congressional District.

The report also suggests that most of the establishment Idaho GOP money is sticking to the sidelines, at least for now.

Ward — a former Marine who led a combat tour in Fallujah, Iraq — has raised $120,216 through June 30. With $105,447 on hand, Ward has seized an early fundraising edge for a GOP primary.

A few name contributors on Ward's Federal Election Çommission report:

• Jim and Faye Palin of Wasilla, Alaska — the father-in-law and mother-in-law of former GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin — kicked in $200 apiece. There is a nexus here; last fall, Ward coordinated the McCain-Palin campaign in Nevada. Ward is well-acquainted with Palin's in-laws, parents and brother, Ward campaign spokesman Ryan O'Barto said.

• Ward has received $2,400 from Allen Noble, one of the earliest investors in Micron Technology.

• Former Intermountain Gas Co. President William Glynn has contributed $250.

• Ward received $250 from Brian Whitlock, a lobbyist for Battelle Energy Alliance, an Idaho National Laboratory contractor. The nexus: Ward and Whitlock are former Dirk Kempthorne aides, with Whitlock eventually serving as Kempthorne's gubernatorial chief of staff.

Not a lot of money from the local GOP rank and file. That isn't necessarily a surprise, nearly a year before the race. And it does suggest a wide-open fundraising window for state Rep, Ken Roberts of Donnelly, a recent entry in the race, who hasn't reported any contributions. Or for any other Republican who wants to jump into the race to challenge incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick.

Who, by the way, has already amassed $481,218 for next year's race.

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Nice job killing that one.

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Wasn't he a picther for the Blue Jays

in the '90s