Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Idaho Senate: LaRocco vs. American Idol

By Nathan L. Gonzales

The stage is set for the U.S. Senate race in Idaho. Jim Risch won the GOP nomination Tuesday, the first step for the lieutenant governor in his effort to keep the seat in Republican hands after the Larry Craig debacle. Former Cong. Larry LaRocco won the Democratic nomination, but earned a surprisingly low 72% against a candidate who raised and spent less than $5,000.

So who took 28% in the Democratic primary against a former congressman? The answer: David Archuleta.

That’s a household name if you’re one of the millions of people who watch American Idol. But that’s not the same David Archuleta who was on Idaho’s ballot.

David J. Archuleta is a Native American news reporter, attorney, and Vietnam War veteran, who received over 11,000 votes in the Democratic race. He may be a great guy, but he undoubtedly benefitted from sharing the same name as the teenage crooner.

You see, David James Archuleta of Utah, received roughly 44% of the 97.5 million votes cast (by phone or text) in the finale of televisions top-rated show. An estimated 31.7 million people tuned in watch American Idol’s conclusion, less than a week before Idaho’s primary. Like his namesake, the singing Archuleta finished second in his contest.

But LaRocco has bigger problems. Unlike other states around the country, three times the number of people voted in the Republican primary on Tuesday than the Democratic primary (123,584-40,141). And twice as many people voted for Risch than LaRocco.

The Democrat continues to struggle in fundraising. LaRocco brought in $591,375 through May 7 and had $204,102 on hand. Risch raised over $1.2 million through May 7 and had $902,907 in the bank. And LaRocco shouldn’t expect the DSCC to make up the difference. They don’t even need to spend in Idaho in a formula that gets them to 60 Senate seats.