UPDATE: Some big numbers and surprises in legislative fundraising

(UPDATED, May 16, to reflect late filings.)

As usual, the latest round of candidate “sunshine reports” yielded some moments of enlightenment.

Tuesday was the deadline for legislative candidates to file campaign finance reports — and the documents offer a glimpse into the state of the races, one week before the May 17 primary elections.

A few big-picture takeaways:

Keough 2016 JFAC
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint

Sen. Shawn Keough’s eye-opening haul. The Senate’s senior member — and the co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee — raised close to $80,000 during the filing period. The money came from political action committees, a host of present and past senators, including state Insurance Department Director Dean Cameron, Keough’s predecessor as JFAC co-chair.

Facing a conservative challenge from Glenn Rohrer of Priest River, the Keough primary is one of the most closely watched races on the May 17 ballot. However, the money race is a landslide.

Challenges from the right. Rep. Kelley Packer, a McCammon Republican who has publicly castigated the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation, has raised $18,114 this cycle. Her opponent, Jason West of Pocatello, collected $42,986. In central Idaho, first-term Rep. Merrill Beyeler, R-Leadore, raised $32,900, while Stanley teacher Dorothy Moon raised $20,322.

These primaries, among others, will provide a good gauge of the strength of the GOP’s conservative wing. Idaho Freedom Action, an offshoot of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, has focused much of its criticism on a host of GOP incumbents — including Packer, Beyeler, Keough and Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Incumbents back incumbents. Well, generally. But there are exceptions. Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, supported Doug Ricks, who is challenging first-term Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg.

Bedke, 3.25.16
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley

House Speaker Scott Bedke contributed to 21 House Republicans facing primary opponents next week. Four other incumbents with primary opposition were absent from Bedke’s list: Rep. Van Burtenshaw of Terreton; House Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star; Rep. Pete Nielsen of Mountain Home; and Nate. (I’ve emailed Bedke asking for a clarification, and will update this post.)

Here’s a deeper dive into a few select legislative primaries. To learn more about their candidates and their positions on K-12 issues, click on the name of the race. To access a sunshine report, click on the candidate’s name.

District 1, Senate, GOP

Keough. Raised $79,931. Notable donations: Otter PAC ($1,000); Syringa Networks, a bidder on the Idaho Education Network project ($500); Idaho Land Fund ($500); Imagine Learning, a Provo, Utah-based education software company ($400). Seven sitting Republican senators donated a total of $1,900 to Keough’s campaign.

Glenn Rohrer, Priest River. Raised $16,382. Notable donations: Former state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher ($100). Rohrer donated $10,500 to his campaign.

District 4, House Seat A, GOP

Rep. Luke Malek, Coeur d’Alene. Raised $31,200. Notable donations: Bedke ($500); various firefighters’ groups contributed $4,750.

Arthur Macomber, Coeur d’Alene. Raised $6,192. Notable donations: Winning for Idaho ($1,000); Fulcher ($94.85).

District 9, House Seat A, GOP

Rep. Ryan Kerby, New Plymouth. Raised $13,390. Notable donations: Bedke ($500); CenturyLink, a vendor on the Idaho Education Network project ($500).

Jake Stephens, Caldwell. Raised $2,005. Notable donation: Paul Combe Farms, Caldwell ($820).

District 9, House Seat B, GOP

Rep. Judy Boyle, Midvale. Raised $10,900. Notable donations: Syringa Networks ($1,000); House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Palmer ($1,000); Bedke ($500); Imagine Learning ($250).

Michael Dolton, New Plymouth. Raised $10,047. Notable donations: CenturyLink ($1,000); former state Controller Donna Jones ($50); Weiser schools Superintendent Wil Overgaard ($50).

District 14, House Seat B, GOP

Douglas Jones, Meridian. Raised $910. Notable donation: Idaho Sugarbeet Growers ($600).

Gayann DeMordaunt, Eagle. Raised $17,775. Notable donations: Retiring Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (Gayann DeMordaunt’s husband) ($1,000); CenturyLink ($500); former State Board of Education member Milford Terrell ($1,000); Sen. Bob Nonini ($200).

District 15, House Seat B. GOP

Rep. Patrick McDonald, Boise. Raised $17,600. Notable donations: CenturyLink ($1,000); U.S. Sen. Jim Risch ($1,000); Bedke ($500); Syringa Networks ($300); Imagine Learning ($250).

Rod Beck, Boise. Raised $13,375. Notable donations: Beck has donated $3,250 to his own campaign. He also received $1,000 from Doyle Beck, his brother, who is the chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.

Jason Joel Robinson, Boise. Reported no donations.

District 22, Senate, GOP

Sen. Lori Den Hartog, Meridian. Raised $16,375. Notable donations: Hill ($1,000); Syringa Networks ($500); CenturyLink ($300); Imagine Learning ($250).

Charles Pratt Porter, Kuna. Raised $2,000, receiving $1,000 apiece from Sue Porter and Richard Porter, both of Bakersfield, Calif.

District 25, House Seat A, GOP

Rep. Maxine Bell, Jerome. Raised $11,700. Notable donations: Bedke ($1,000); Cameron ($500); Imagine Learning ($400).

Reggy Sternes, Jerome. Raised $2,842. Notable donation: Employers Resource, Boise ($200).

District 30, House Seat B, GOP

Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho Falls. Raised $14,614. Notable donations: Bedke ($500); Imagine Learning ($400); Hill ($250).

Randy Neal, Idaho Falls. Raised $4,846. Notable donations: $4,000 came from various companies tied to Doyle Beck. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has accused Doyle Beck of violating state campaign finance law by hiding the source of donations.

District 34, House Seat A, GOP

Rep. Ron Nate, Rexburg. Raised $10,821. Notable donations: Palmer ($500); Idaho Chooses Life ($250). Nate also made a $2,000 loan to his campaign.

Doug Ricks, Rexburg. Raised $9,425. Notable donations: Hill ($1,000); Gibbs ($500).

Disclosure: J.B. Scott is affiliated with the Idaho Land Fund. He is also board chairman of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, which funds Idaho Education News.

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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