Idaho elections: the money race

(UPDATED, Tuesday, 10:57 a.m., to reflect late filings.)

Gov. Butch Otter has raised at least $461,000 for his re-election bid since Jan. 1, dwarfing his main GOP challenger, Meridian state Sen. Russ Fulcher, who has raised at least $154,000 in that period.

A.J. Balukoff, facing only token competition in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, raised more than $284,000.

Those are highlights from the pre-primary campaign finance “sunshine reports” for state races. The reports were due at 5 p.m. Tuesday, one week before the election.

Here are candidate-by-candidate thumbnails. (To access the reports, just click on the candidate’s name.)

Superintendent of public instruction

Andy Grover: The Melba superintendent raised $37,854.15 and spent $23,334.46. He reports having $14,519 on hand and a $6,562 debt.

Andy Grover
Andy Grover

Grover’s largest donor is Melaleuca, an Idaho Falls personal products company, which contributed $5,000 to his campaign. Melaleuca was a prominent supporter of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, which were rejected by voters in November 2012; Grover said he supported the propositions.

Other prominent backers are House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, who contributed $1,000; and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, who contributed $250.

John Eynon: The Cottonwood teacher reported raising $14,783.90 and spending $10,046.66, leaving $4,737.24 on hand. After the filing period, he received an additional $1,500 donation from Integrity in Government, an Ahsahka-based group. This donation was reported on a state “48-hour” form. In the days leading up to a primary or general election, candidates are required to file separate reports itemizing any contribution of $1,000 or more.

Eynon, an opponent of the Common Core standards, has the endorsement of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a conservative PAC based in Rathdrum. The PAC contributed $200 to his campaign — as did attorney general’s candidate Chris Troupis and his wife Maureen. Troupis also is being endorsed by the liberty caucus.

Eynon also received $200 from Felix Nuxoll, the husband of state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, and has received support from some public critics of Common Core.

Randy Jensen: The longtime American Falls principal reported raising $7,124.20. He has spent $4,248.23, leaving him $2,875.97 on hand for the sprint to the May 20 primary.

Among his supporters: Jensen received $500 from Vallivue School District superintendent Pat Charlton and his wife, Cheryl.

Jensen recently urged supporters to send money not to his campaign, but to instead contribute to their local schools. Since that April 14 announcement, his campaign has received only $1,550.

Sherri Ybarra: The Mountain Home school administrator raised $2,850.14 through the filing period. She has spent $2,479.80, leaving $370.34 on hand.

More than 80 percent of her contributions came from Mountain Home — including a $100 contribution from school district superintendent Tim McMurtrey.

Jana Jones Headshot 2
Jana Jones

Jana Jones: Unopposed in the May 20 Democratic primary, Jones has outraised any of the Republicans. She raised $51,404.31 through May 4, spent $33,608.98, and has $17,795.33 on hand.

Prominent contributors include former state superintendent Marilyn Howard, Jones’ former boss and current campaign treasurer, who contributed $1,524.72. Jones also received $1,000 from Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff and $300 from former Boise schools superintendent Stan Olson, who opposed GOP state superintendent Tom Luna in the 2010 election.

Jones filed one “48-hour” form, reflecting a $1,000 donation from Mary Ann Ranells, superintendent of North Idaho’s Lakeland School District.


Butch Otter

Butch Otter: Otter raised $407,512.28 during the filing period. He spent $510,261.61 and has $605,316.54 on hand. But since the May 4 close of the filing period, Otter’s war chest has been fortified by $54,475 in “48-hour” donations — including $5,000 from CenturyLink, and $5,000 apiece from Frank VanderSloot, the head of Melaleuca and a prominent GOP donor, and from VanderSloot’s wife, Belinda.

Other prominent Otter donors included Melaleuca ($5,000); former State Board of Education member Milford Terrell ($3,000); retiring Secretary of State Ben Ysursa ($2,500); Micron Technology CEO Mark Durcan ($2,500); Jeff Malmen, a former Otter aide who now lobbies for Idaho Power ($2,200); and former Govs. Dirk Kempthorne ($1,000) and Phil Batt ($500).

A long list of legislators supported Otter’s campaign, headed by Goedde, who contributed $1,050 in campaign and personal funds.

A couple of footnotes: Otter received $3,500 from Gallatin Public Affairs, a p.r. firm co-founded by former Gov. Cecil Andrus, a Democrat (Andrus has retired from the firm). Otter also received $20 from GOP primary opponent Harley Brown.

Russ Fulcher

Russ Fulcher: He raised $106,419.72 for the filing period ending May 4. He spent $229,372.55, and ends the period with $79,383 in cash on hand and $90,000 in debt. However, he also filed 48-hour forms listing $48,000 in large, late donations — including one, filed Saturday, from Anheuser-Busch.

One of his largest donors is Syringa Networks, a company embroiled in an extensive lawsuit over the Idaho Education Network broadband contract — a deal backed by longtime Otter confidante Mike Gwartney. Syringa gave Fulcher $5,000.

Several current legislators backed Fulcher with personal or campaign funds, including Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Meridian ($2,000); Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett ($1,000); Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa ($500); Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale ($200); Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and his wife Cathyanne ($100); and Reps. Kathleen Sims and Ron Mendive ($100 each).

Walter BayesThe perennial candidate, running on an anti-abortion platform, reported raising $1,754.67, and spending $1,710.70, leaving $43.97 on hand. All the money came in the form of loans to the campaign.

Harley Brown: The perennial candidate said he has raised no money, but spent several thousands of his own money on his campaign. In an odd, hand-written note on his form, Brown played the Kris Kringle card. “This campaign has kept me busier than Santa Clause (sic) on Christmas Eve, superimposed on my full life. I have no staff.”

AJ Balukoff
A.J. Balukoff

A.J. Balukoff: The Democratic candidate and 18-year Boise School Board member reported raising $282,687.54 from Jan. 1 through May 4. He spent $220,916.54 during that same period, and has $99,903.32 on hand. He has received an additional $2,000 in “48-hour” donations.

Balukoff made a $71,000 donation to his campaign on April 14, and has contributed $227,750.35 to his war chest since announcing his candidacy in December.

Terry Kerr: The Idaho Falls Democrat reported no fundraising activity.

Secretary of State

Lawerence Denney

Lawerence Denney: The Midvale legislator, one of four Republicans hoping to succeed Ysursa, swamped his competitors in fundraising. He collected $150,103.13 during the filing period and spent $153,688.74. He has $10,382.55 on hand and is carrying $8,500 in debt. He received one $1,500 “48-hour” donation.

Big-name GOP donors include House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian ($1,500); House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star ($1,188.68); U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador ($1,000); Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Meridian ($1,000) and Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth ($1,000).

Phil McGrane: The Ada County deputy clerk added $47,644.65 to his campaign coffers from Jan. 1 through May 4. After spending $37,569.11, he has $18,931.57 on hand. His “48-hour” reports reflect $3,000 in donations, including $1,000 from CenturyLink and $1,000 from Rep, Luke Malek, a Coeur d’Alene Republican who had briefly considered a run for secretary of state.

Ysursa, who publicly endorsed McGrane in April, has backed that up with $4,500 from his campaign fund. Other big-name McGrane backers include Lt. Gov. Brad Little ($500); outgoing State Board of Education member Milford Terrell ($500); state Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston ($500, from her campaign fund); and state Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa ($250 from campaign funds).

Mitch Toryanski: The former state senator from Boise raised $34,606.74, spent $33,931.57 and has $2,582.18 on hand.

Toryanski’s largest donor is Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, who contributed $1,000. Freda Cenarrusa, the widow of longtime Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, contributed $500.

Evan Frasure: The former state senator from Pocatello raised $15,525 through the fundraising period, and spent $17,052.65. He has $3,699.64 on hand.

His campaign finance report lists several past and current legislators as supporters, including Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis of Idaho Falls ($500); Sen. Jim Guthrie of McCammon ($1,250); and Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon ($1,000).

Holli Woodings

Holli Woodings: The Boise legislator, unopposed in next week’s Democratic primary, raised $69,825.65 during the filing period. She spent $47,121.30 and has $22,704.35 on hand.

Her finances include $13,667.65 rolled from her legislative campaign account; a $5,000 contribution from her husband, Ryan; and $1,000 from Balukoff.

Attorney general

Lawrence Wasden: The Republican incumbent reported receiving $66,734 during the filing period, and spending $50,292.45. He has $31,075.20 on hand, including money carried over from previous filings. He has received another $2,000 in “48-hour” contributions.

Key contributions include $10,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association in Beverly, Mass.; $5,000 from the J.R. Simplot Co.; $1,000 from Idaho Power Co.; and $500 from Little and the Ysursa campaign.

Chris Troupis: The GOP challenger reported raising $69,979.44 during the filing period, spending $65,719.45 and having $4,255.99. He has received an additional $9,250 in contributions not included in this report; one was a $1,000 contribution from the Idaho Land Fund and J.B. Scott. He also made a late $1,075 loan to his campaign.

He has received money from a handful of current and past legislators, including Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton ($1,000), Sheryl and Felix Nuxoll ($200), and former state Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries ($100.)

Bruce Bistline: The unopposed Democratic candidate raised $1,068.87 for the period, spent $768.07 and has $300 on hand.


Brandon Woolf: The Republican incumbent raised $46,076.20 during the filing period and spent $47,244.81. He had $49,048.47 cash on hand, but a $30,000 campaign debt.

Supporters include the J.R. Simplot Co. ($5,000); Hewlett-Packard ($2,000); the Ysursa campaign ($1,000); Little ($500); and Administration Department director Teresa Luna ($100).

Todd Hatfield: In his regular report, the Republican challenger reported raising $19,389 and spending $18,699.82, leaving $14,185.97 on hand. However, he also collected an additional $5,300 in late contributions last week.

Notable contributions include $1,000 from former state Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls.

Disclosure: J.B. Scott is board chairman of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson 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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