Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ketchum makes first campaign deposit for Brady

Fund-raiser held for Democrat's gubernatorial run


After officially announcing in March his candidacy for Idaho governor, Jerry Brady came to Ketchum last week to hold his campaign's first major fund-raiser and publicly speak out against Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was among those who spoke at the event held at the Ketchum residence of Alan and Melinda Blinken. Alan Blinken was U.S. ambassador to Belgium under President Bill Clinton.

Brady, a Democrat from Idaho Falls, is president and former publisher of the Post Register newspaper, a daily based in Idaho Falls.

Brady's new campaign marks his second run at the state's highest office. In 2002, he earned 42 percent of the vote, losing to Kempthorne, the incumbent, despite carrying Ada County, the state's most populous county.

The event Thursday, Aug. 11, raised $24,000, with some outstanding pledges still remaining to be paid, said Yvonne McCoy, Brady for Idaho campaign manager. Individuals paid $250 to attend with couples contributing $400 to the campaign.

"This is the best kickoff for the campaign we could have hoped for," said McCoy, adding, "It exceeded our goal." Original forecasts for the evening had Brady raising about $20,000 in Ketchum, she said.

With 18 months remaining in the 2006 gubernatorial race, Brady issued a groundwork vision of the state's future, balanced against several fierce attacks on the Republican leadership in Boise.

Kempthorne has said that he won't run for another term. U.S. Rep. Butch Otter, former lieutenant governor Gov. Phil Batt's administration, is the only announced Republican candidate.

"Idaho is at a crossroads," Brady said, warning that the state could become "either the next great place, or a place that used to be great."

Brady's prepared remarks covered a range of topics, with many returning to bread-and-butter Democratic Party issues such as the environment and working wages.

Asking, "What's the value to a family of a $5.15 minimum wage?" Brady questioned the Republican mantra of "family values."

Although the election is a distant 18 months away, Brady did not hesitate to lambaste Kempthorne and his administration.

"This man bounces checks to his hairdresser," Brady said, referring to a recent governor's office scandal involving insufficient funds in a private Kempthorne account.

Brady was introduced by Heinz Kerry, whose presence was instrumental to the night's success, according to McCoy. Heinz Kerry spoke for approximately 15 minutes as the sun dipped behind the aspen trees lining the Blinken property, near where the Kerry family also owns a residence.

Reflecting on the bitter election season leading up to the 2004 presidential election, which John Kerry lost to President George W, Bush, she said, "We had a lot of battles—wonderful battles—and I think we should be proud of them."

Despite the optimism of the fund-raising hosts, some guests displayed skepticism about a Democrat winning the state's highest office.

"I feel a bit like Sisyphus," said one donor, who asked his name be withheld.

Heinz Kerry, more familiar with defeat than many guests, was more positive.

"I don't think any party owns any state," she said.

John Kerry, billed as a host, was not present at the Thursday night event. Also absent from scheduled appearances were former Idaho Govs. Cecil Andrus and John Evans, and Bethine Church, widow of former Idaho Sen. Frank Church. Idaho Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, who has raised the possibility of a gubernatorial run, was also absent.

Jon Thorson, mayor of Sun Valley, was one of many local residents and Democratic Party members who were lending support to the Brady campaign.

"(Brady) is the kind of man who should appeal to thinking members of both parties," Thorson said.

Brady's next fund-raising event will be held Sept. 7 in Jackson, Wyo. McCoy said Brady hopes to raise another $20,000 there.

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