Last Man Standing 

Now that it's a one-horse race for the Democrats in Idaho's First Congressional District, political observers are waiting to see how the campaign shifts focus.

Democratic candidate Larry Grant dropped out of the race last week, thereby anointing Walt Minnick as the party's candidate to take on Republican Rep. Bill Sali in the November general election.

It's the final cut for what was once a crowded Democratic field. North Idaho businessman Rand Lewis dropped out of the race earlier this year.

The unified front means an early, concentrated effort to oust Sali, thanks to a single focus for Idaho's Democrats, as well as more support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has targeted the campaign against Sali as one of the top 60 races in the country.

"Sali is one of the most embarrassing and ineffectual congressmen we've ever had," Grant said.

For his part, Sali responded to Grant's departure by praising Grant for running a strong campaign in 2006, while calling Minnick a raging liberal.

"With Walt Minnick as the Democrat nominee, Idahoans are left with a very clear choice," Sali said in a written statement. "Walt's positions on issues seem to be in line with San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi, but not with Idaho's First District."

While ideologically similar, Grant and Minnick have had very different campaign styles.

Grant has prided himself on a grass-roots campaign, with the bulk of his support coming from district residents.

Minnick went straight to his network of business contacts, getting big donations from both Republicans and Democrats across the country.

Minnick said he hopes to use Grant's expertise in grass-roots politics to boost his own campaign.

"I'm kind of new to this world," he said of community-based politics.

Grant said he plans to be an active part of Minnick's campaign.

"There's an opportunity here in Idaho for a Democrat that doesn't come around very often," Grant said.

In Minnick's last race for the First District seat he challenged Sen. Larry Craig in 1996, earning roughly 40 percent of the vote.

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