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Is Sali Vulnerable In Idaho?

When any incumbent fails to top the 60 percent mark in a primary, it’s generally a warning sign for the candidate’s prospects in a general election.

Even in a heavily Republican state like Idaho, in a conservative district that gave President Bush a 39-point margin of victory in 2004.

But freshman Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) may have his own re-election concerns after only winning 60 percent of the vote against an underfunded challenger, Iraq war veteran Matt Salisbury, in Tuesday’s primary.

Sali is no stranger to close races. After narrowly inching past a slew of Republicans with 26 percent of the vote in his first Congressional primary, he only won 50 percent of the vote in defeating Democratic business executive Larry Grant in 2006.

The close election result in such a conservative district was a warning sign to Sali, a former conservative state representative who entered Congress with a history of making provocative statements back home in the legislature.  His ideological obstinance didn't exactly win him much bipartisan support in Congress -- last year, he proposed a bill to fight obesity by reducing Earth's gravity in response to the Democrats' minimum wage hike proposal.

This year, Democrats are fielding a challenger, businessman Walt Minnick, who has shown the ability to raise respectable amounts of money and who has already supplemented his campaign with his own personal wealth. Sali only reported $158,000 cash-on-hand and had $135,000 in debt.

Minnick reported over $321,000 in his campaign account in mid-May.

Still, even with the closer-than-expected primary, Sali still starts out as the solid favorite against Minnick. His district is one of the most Republican in the entire country, and Democrats failed to pick up the seat when they had a golden opportunity in 2006.
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