Democrat Jimmy Farris is acknowledging he exaggerated when he said hes never run into freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador during the campaign for Idaho's 1st Congressional District. In fact, Farris tweeted a photo of him chatting with Labrador at the Canyon County Fair in July.
Me and @Raul_Labrador at the Canyon Co Fair. The first of many substantive conversations, wrote a hopeful Farris.
Owning up to his misstatement, Farris said, Youre right. Thats legit. I did say I hadnt seen him, and I did see him. I should have been more clear about specifying that when Im out on the trail, anywhere other than basically Boise, this guy doesnt leave home.
Farris said the encounter at the fair was the only time hes seen Labrador. He accuses him of treating his re-election as if hes unopposed.
Farris is experiencing a frustration common among little-known challengers facing incumbents. Ive struggled raising money, but were running a solid campaign. He just wont engage.
Through June 30, Farris raised $37,387, Labrador $547,328. Farris said he hopes to have raised $100,000 by months end.
Other than the Canyon fair, Farris said he hasnt seen Labrador at any of the 15 or 20 fairs, rodeos and parades where hes campaigned this summer. Labrador has agreed to two TV debates, Oct. 23 on KTVB-Channel 7 and Oct. 25 on Idaho Public TV.
As is his custom with Farris, Labrador declined comment. I sought a reaction from Labradors official spokesman, Phil Hardy, and his campaign manager, China Gum, asking for information on his official and campaign schedules. Hardy didnt reply to my emails. Wrote Gum, Hi Dan: no comment.
I did speak with Labrador Monday about his having missed 4.7 percent of his votes since taking office in January 2011, a rate twice the typical House member. He said he is staying connected to Idaho by traveling home frequently, which has led to missed votes because of delayed flights.
I come home every weekend, Labrador said. Im more accessible to the constituents, more accessible to the people, I can spend time with my family.
Labrador, 44, hasnt disguised that hes uncomfortable with life on Capitol Hill. He sleeps on an air mattress in his office and speaks of missing his wife and the four of their five children still at home. Those personal sacrifices have fueled speculation Labrador will run for governor in 2014 so he can come home.
For now, Farris alleges Labrador is holing up with his family and ducking the campaign give-and-take.
Its no secret that he does not like being in Washington, Farris told me Monday. I dont know where hes at or what hes doing. The people of Idaho dont know where hes at or what hes doing. They see him every couple months when he does Meet the Press or something like that.
Farris crossed the truth line Wednesday in an appearance on Nate Shelmans show on KBOI 670.
I was up north for weeks at a time campaigning, working the district, out there getting my name out, something that the congressman hasnt been doing, Farris said. I havent seen him out on the campaign trail. Ive never run into him. I wish I had some good stories about running into him somewhere.
Farris said he wasnt surprised to get my call. As soon as I said that, I probably knew that was coming. Id hit me on it.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics