The Campaign Spot

Sarah Palin’s First Three Picks in the House (UPDATE: Okay, Four.)

Sarah Palin endorsed three military veterans running for the House:

Major Vaughn Ward, a fourth-generation Idaho native who grew up on his family’s farm in Shoshone and is running in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District . . . the second veteran is Captain Adam Kinzinger, a decorated special-operations pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . and Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, a decorated war hero who’s served with distinction in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These are three of the GOP’s candidates with the most interesting biographies, and they’re all running on favorable terrain. Democrat Walt Minnick’s win in Idaho in 2008 was by about 4,000 votes, while McCain was winning 62 percent to 36 percent. He’s the first Democrat to represent Idaho in Congress since 1992, and his upset victory owes a lot to the campaign missteps of Republican Bill Sali and $900,000 of his own money.

According to one poll, Kinzinger is up by 6 over Democrat Debbie Halvorson already. Had Republican candidate Tim Baldermann not suddenly dropped out weeks after winning the primary, this Democrat with close ties Rod Blagojevich might not have won in this narrowly GOP-leaning district.

Finally, Allen West lost, 45 percent to 55 percent, in 2008 while getting outspent more than 4-to-1 against Democrat Ron Klein, in a district rated D+1. Obviously, with better funding and a year less favorable to Democrats, West has a decent shot.

These three challengers are aiming to pick relatively low-hanging fruit. Considering the attention and donations that a Palin endorsement can bring to a candidate, there are probably other Republican candidates hoping she looks beyond the obvious choices . . .

UPDATE: I stand corrected; these are House endorsements two, three, and four from Palin. The first was Sean Duffy in Wisconsin, who is taking on David Obey. Duffy’s a strong candidate, but in a district that Kerry carried narrowly and that Obama carried easily, I wouldn’t put this one in the “low-hanging fruit” category.

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