Sen. Larry Craig will announce his resignation tomorrow, effective September 30. That runs the clock out to the end of the third quarter and will allow now Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Craig’s likely replacement, a month to get his affairs in order and buy him three months to file an FEC report, as the third quarter ends September 30.
Craig’s decision makes it extremely difficult for former Rep. Larry LaRocco to steal the seat. He’ll be running against a popular incumbent in a Republican state in a Presidential election year. That said, this seat is not at safe as it was pre-scandal, and we cannot afford to take it for granted. George Allen cost himself a Senate seat last year, and LaRocco is the type of candidate who, if given some help, could capitalize on a similar gaffe.
Democrats are eager to expand the playing field and will not simply cede the seat given the current set of circumstances. Risch needs to put together a finance team quickly and demonstrate that he can bury LaRocco in cash in spite of any spike in contributions that might result from the Craig scandal. Risch can secure the seat by finishing the year with double the cash that LaRocco has on hand. Anything short of that will suggest that the door is cracked. We have to slam it as quickly as possible.