BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Republican candidates running for the state’s top elected seats in 2018 are already collecting big contributions, even though the primary election is still 10 months away.
Mid-year campaign financial disclosure reports were filed Monday with the secretary of state’s office.
Here are some of the key political points the reports revealed:
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES LEAD FUNDRAISING RACE
Boise businessman and GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist raised more than $952,000 since March — with roughly $378,000 coming from Ahlquist. The campaign said the amount is the most cash raised by mid-year for a governor’s race in Idaho history. The political newcomer has already spent most of it on broadcast advertisements and polling.
Ahlquist’s opponents have also been busy attracting support across the state. U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador raised nearly $310,000 for his campaign while splitting his time running for the top position and serving in Congress. Of that amount, $40,000 came from in-kind donations from fellow GOP congressmen and another $17,500 came from out-of-state political action committees.
That amount also includes $65,000 Labrador cannot use until the general election. Idaho campaign laws cap primary contributions at $5,000 for statewide candidates. So while 13 donors gave Labrador $10,000, he can only use half of that amount against his GOP opponents.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little raised more than $229,500 throughout the reporting period. The Republican lawmaker has been running the longest out of all three gubernatorial candidates and has roughly $449,000 cash on hand since he started raising money last year.
The 2018 governor’s race will be the first in 12 years without an incumbent running because Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced he will not run for a fourth term.
LESSER KNOWN SEATS GETTING HELP FROM SELF-FUNDING, OUTSIDE DONORS
The gubernatorial race may be the most high-profile competition in 2018, but candidates running in the lieutenant governor’s race are also raising big bucks for the No. 2 statewide seat.
Former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates collected more than $102,000, according to his campaign reports. Like Ahlquist’s campaign, Yates’ team boasts that the amount is that a highest lieutenant governor candidate has received in mid-year fundraising. Unlike Ahlquist, more than half of Yates’ contributions come from outside the state.
Yates, a former aid to Vice President Dick Cheney who started his own Asian policy and consulting firm, received donations from businessmen and medical officials primarily from New Jersey, New York and Texas.
In comparison, former state Rep. Janice McGeachin raised nearly $75,000 all from Idaho donors. That amount includes a $50,000 loan McGeachin gave to her campaign. Following her, state Sen. Marv Hagedorn raised $15,185 and Rep. Kelley Packer raised little more than $10,000.
The lieutenant governor position is open because Little is running for governor.
NEWCOMER PUSHING THROUGH
Political newcomer Jeff Dillon has raised almost three times more than the incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra.
Dillon, the school superintendent for the southeastern city of Wilder, has raised $2,870 since launching his bid for the school chief seat in April. Ybarra has raised $900 since January after having just $92 cash on hand and has already spent most of it on Republican events and reimbursements.
Ybarra won the 2014 primary against three other opponents after raising $2,800.
NO DEMOCRATIC ACTIVITY
So far, no Democratic candidates have emerged to begin running in the state’s most competitive races. The Idaho Democratic Party has previously said it will wait closer to election day before announcing their top candidates.
However, in Republican-dominant Idaho, the most competitive leg of campaigns is the May primary because Democratic candidates have rarely come close to defeating GOP contenders in the general election.