Assembling an awkward alliance, Critchfield builds on fundraising edge

Republican Debbie Critchfield heads into the final month of the state superintendent’s race with a sizeable fundraising edge over Democrat Terry Gilbert.

And the former State Board of Education president padded her financial advantage by drawing donations from across the GOP spectrum.

Here are the raw numbers from the September sunshine reports:

Critchfield’s September fundraising represents an awkward alliance.

All told, Critchfield raked in more than $7,500 from three Senate Republicans defeated in the May primary: Jeff Agenbroad of Nampa, Carl Crabtree of Grangeville and Jim Woodward of Sagle.

Critchfield also collected $5,000 maximum donations from Larry Williams and Marianne Williams, both of Boise. She also received a $5,000 maximum donation from the Williamses’ Tree Top Ranches.

This spring, Larry Williams played a role in unseating Agenbroad, Crabtree and Woodward, plowing family and business donations into the three primaries and supporting the incumbents’ conservative opponents. The three senators opposed a charter school funding bill — and they say Williams singled them out over that bill, Kelcie Moseley-Morris of the Idaho Capital Sun reported in September. Williams told the Capital Sun that his donations were not political payback, but an attempt to bring more balance to the Senate.

Critchfield also received several other notable donations, including $5,000 from former state superintendent and state GOP chairman Tom Luna, $1,000 from retired West Ada school superintendent Mary Ann Ranells and a total of $3,000 from Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca Inc., Melalueca CEO Frank VanderSloot and his wife, Belinda.

Gilbert’s most prominent Democratic supporter from September was former U.S. Rep. Larry LaRocco.

Idaho Education News will continue to track fundraising and campaign spending leading up to the Nov. 8 election. Check back for updates.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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