| The race to fill Republican Butch Otter's open seat in Idaho's first district was one of my favorite stories to write about last year. In what is now a campfire legend, Bill "Brain Fade" Sali rode a wave of bad press for his asinine antics and bad reputation in the Idaho state legislature to a spectacularly dismal 49-46 victory over Democrat Larry Grant last November. (And when Bush carries your district with 68% of the vote, no self-respecting Republican candidate has any business performing that badly.)
However, aside from being the handmaiden of his campaign benefactors, the economic regressives at the Club For Growth, Sali has kept a mostly low profile in the House this year. So one might expect that Sali's high negatives have softened over the past eight months, right? Well, maybe not, if you believe the latest polling.
Via The Hill and New West comes news of a new poll conducted by Greg Smith and Associates showing Sali with some serious baggage ("voters", July 11-13):
Bill Sali (R-inc.)
No Opinion: 13
Just dismal. And how does Larry Grant fare, the rematch candidate who commissioned the poll?
Larry Grant (D)
No Opinion: 29
So, despite losing a close race and feeling the full fury of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Club For Growth (who spent $483,000 and $441,000 smearing Grant's name, respectively, in the closing weeks of the campaign), Grant walks away with only a 13% disapproval rating, while 59% of the district's voters either do not recognize his name or have no opinion of him either way. Losing a House race, it would seem, does not earn one a great deal of meaningful name recognition.
While Sali has not shaken off his negatives, it is difficult not to mention that this district had little problem re-electing the late Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth despite her own psychedelically nutty reputation. It seems that Sali still has yet to endear himself in the same way, though.
PS: You might remember the Boise-based Smith & Associates firm as the curators of a startling poll last fall showing Sali's support evaporating while the rest of his Republican colleagues were in solid shape.