The campaign money trail: an early look

Wednesday was a campaign finance report deadline — for what the state calls “non-active” statewide candidates.

How active are some of these “non-active” campaigns? It varies:

Gov. Butch Otter. He raised $215,368.95 during the first six months of the year, but was his own biggest benefactor. On June 30, he forgave $131,000 in personal campaign loans.

This leaves Otter with $129,208.98 in the bank, 15 months before the November 2014 general election. Otter has said he plans to seek a third term. Labeling Otter’s fundraising “tepid,” the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey says the latest report may rekindle talk that Otter will not seek re-election.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little. It’s unclear exactly what Little may be running for, but his fundraising has been active. He collected $38,818.16 for the first six months of the year, and has $59,341.75 on hand.

The report is heavy with support from Idaho Republican and business political action committee circles. But there is a measure of bipartisan backing: Tom Katsilometes, a Democratic member of the State Tax Commission, kicked in $150. So did Gallatin Public Affairs, a Boise firm with a bipartisan bent (former Gov. Cecil Andrus is a counsel to the firm, and former Andrus chief of staff Marc Johnson is a partner).

Little is seen as an heir apparent to Otter, if Otter decides not to seek re-election.

State superintendent Tom Luna. On Wednesday, Luna told Idaho Education News that he’d like to run again and will make his plans official in the months to come.  But Luna’s campaign fundraising was sluggish. He collected only $4,750 and ended the filing period with $24,500 in campaign debt.

Most of Luna’s contributions, such as they were, came from other Republican campaign funds — from U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, Little and five members of the GOP’s legislative leadership teams.

No opponents, Republican or Democrat, have filed to oppose Luna. But compared to Otter and Little, the Luna campaign appears to be in considerably weaker shape.

Steve Smylie. Seven years after narrowly losing to Luna in the GOP primary, Smylie has emerged as one of Luna’s most public critics. Is he positioning for another run?

On the one hand, he never terminated his account from the 2006 race. On the other hand, Smylie didn’t raise a dime the first half of 2013, and his campaign still carries a $68,805.35 debt.

More reading: More on the reports from Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

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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