“You thought this was going to be easy?” Buell told him. “They’d hear you were running for Congress and just start writing checks?”
The truth was that a lot of Idaho Democrats were disillusioned. Excited by Obama and the slate of Democrats, they had showed up in strong numbers in 2008, but 15,000 of those voters stayed home two years later, according to party leaders. From his rental home in Meridian, Farris would spend hours going through a list of potential donors, but every fundraising call began to sound the same. In frustration, Farris hung up after yet another fruitless call and told Langhorst that he was no longer interested in talking to people who didn’t think he had a chance.
Langhorst snapped back. “Well, at this point, that leaves only you.”
“I just couldn’t get through to him that he actually had to sell himself,” she explained later. “A lot of people wanted to give their advice. I couldn’t combat all that. What I needed him to do was sit in a room, make phone calls all day and listen to what I said.”
By Christmas, the consultant and the fundraiser had both left the campaign. Farris was living off his modest savings. When he went to bed each night, Farris was unsure how he could wake up and continue. The winter proved to be “the worst months I’ve ever experienced.”
“This is not what a congressional campaign is supposed to look like,” he said.
On the day of Idaho’s primary election, Jimmy Farris woke up feeling good. He drove to a school and cast a vote for himself.
Originally, he wasn’t supposed to have had competition in the primary, but at the last minute, a 58-year-old named Cynthia Clinkingbeard entered the race. Farris had been excited by the prospects — he figured it was a chance to stir media interest and warm up for the November showdown with Labrador.
Within days, Clinkingbeard had entered a Staples office supply store to make campaign fliers, and after a disagreement with employees, police say she pulled a gun. She was charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault.
Clinkingbeard, a physician who has a history of bipolar disorder and lost her medical license in 2005, did not drop out. Farris consulted with party leaders, and they decided to ignore her, declining an invitation to a televised debate and opting against spending any money before the primary.