Democratic strategists are breathing a sigh of relief over Rep. Walt Minnick’s (D-Idaho) reelection prospects.
Minnick’s Republican challenger, state Rep. Raul Labrador (R), was notably absent from the group of Republican candidates the National Republican Congressional Committee promoted in its Young Guns candidates training program Wednesday.
The NRCC added 33 GOP candidates to its “On the Radar” and “Contender” lists but didn’t include Labrador, who defeated committee favorite Vaughn Ward in the May primary.
Democrats were quick to take note of Labrador's absence.
“After the NRCC got burned by investing heavily in serial plagiarist Vaughn Ward while Congressman Minnick worked hard in his district and tallied up a cash advantage of 16 to one over Raul Labrador, it’s looking more and more like this district is falling off the NRCC’s radar,” Andrew Stone, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
Labrador also missed out an earlier round of Young Gun promotions in June.
He has reportedly had a tense relationship with the committee. He campaigned vigorously against Ward, railing against him as a Washington establishment candidate. And Labrador was stood up by NRCC officials when he came to Washington in December, according to the Idaho Statesman. After his primary win, he has yet to receive contributions from House Republicans, except for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who gave $2,000 on June 22.
Meanwhile, Minnick has a significant cash-on-hand advantage. He reported having more than $1.1 million in the bank at the end of June, while Labrador reported having some $69,000 cash on hand.
A spokeswoman for the NRCC did not address Labrador’s status in the Young Guns program, but insisted Minnick would have a tough reelect.
“Walt Minnick needs every penny to defend his votes for higher taxes and for Nancy Pelosi as speaker,” Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said in a statement. ”While Minnick courts Nancy Pelosi’s friends in liberal San Francisco, Raul Labrador is working to introduce himself to Idahoans and build a winning campaign to defeat Walt Minnick.”