First-time Democratic candidate Jimmy Farris has a buoyant 60-second spot that he hopes will air this fall in his race against freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador.
Titled, "A Future Leader, Now," the video is only available on the web. Farris has raised about $37,000 through June 30, compared to Labrador's $628,000. Farris reported $8,300 in the bank, Labrador $203,000, according to their second-quarter reports to the Federal Election Commission.
Farris said he still hopes to tap his roots as a former NFL player and figures he needs to spend $300,000 to be competitive. "If we could have raised and spent that by Election Day, I think we'd be in pretty good shape," he said Wednesday.
Farris said his newcomer status has been a hurdle, though he says he's raised his profile with retail campaigning in recent months and hopes to reach $150,000 in contributions by Sept. 30.
"I just hadn't met enough people in the district," Farris said. "People were reluctant to contribute to a campaign with a candidate that they've never met, or they didn't know where I stood. Now when I'm making phone calls people know who I am."
Farris had hoped his NFL connections would be pivotal, but has received just $4,000 from four contributions: $500 each from NFL veterans Alge Crumpler, Bryan Scott and Ryan Stewart, and $2,500 from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
Farris said he'd solicited contributions from 20 or 25 players, but found many disinterested in politics. "A lot of guys just don't want to get involved in the process."
The economy also has played a role, Farris said, "Just because you make a lot of money doesn't necessarily mean they haven't lost a significant amount in real estate or the stock market or whatever."
Farris said he hopes to make another run at NFL money after players receive their first paychecks once the season starts. "I think it's something that could be there for me. As we get closer to Election Day, guys are getting paychecks every week so they're feeling better about their disposable income."
Farris' inability to raise money is deadly to his chances, said Boise State political scientist emeritus Jim Weatherby. "At this point, the Farris candidacy appears to be DOA. He can’t demonstrate his fund raising ability, can’t pass the viability test for a challenger. Upsets have occurred in 1st District races but apparently not this year -- especially when the Democratic incumbent president is so unpopular in Idaho."
Labrador Campaign Manager China Gum provided this statement: "Congressman Labrador's least favorite part of politics is fundraising. He spends most of his time representing his constituents and their interests in Congress. He is very grateful to all of his contributors who share his vision of limited government and contribute their hard-earned money because they want to see him continue to serve them in Congress."
Weatherby said Farris' fundraising woes may also suppress giving to Labrador. "But this could also be bad news for Labrador. How many are going to contribute big bucks to a campaign war chest that already dwarfs his opponent’s?"
In his ad, Farris says he'll break the gridlock in Congress. Shot at the Idaho Statehouse, Farris and a piano player provide the audio. "I have a vision to be a leader who can put partisanship and division aside to solve problems, to do what's right," Farris says. "It'll take a new generation of leaders to accomplish that. That's my dream. We can't wait any longer. The moment is now."
Farris is holding a meet-and-greet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday in Caldwell.
"The overriding theme of every meeting and everywhere I go, regardless of party, is people will look at me and say, 'I'm just tired of the gridlock, I'm tired of nothing getting done.'
"We can have the best policy, we can put forward the best legislation and have the world's greatest solution to all the problems," Farris said. "But if we can't get people to come together and vote for it and pass it, it doesn't matter. That message is resonating really, really well."
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