GOP candidates raise $1.6 million in bid to succeed Otter

In the second half of 2017, three big-name Republicans combined to raise more than $1.6 million in their bid to succeed retiring Gov. Butch Otter.

But their fundraising strategies are decidedly different — and provide a window into the wide-open gubernatorial race, heading into the May 15 GOP primary.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest sunshine reports, which cover July 1 through Dec. 31.

Tommy Ahlquist: Raised $776,947, spent $864,773. Has $68,345 on hand.

The Boise developer and physician continues to be his own biggest campaign benefactor. All told, Ahlquist kicked another $326,000 into his war chest during the filing period.

“Competing with career politicians who collectively have held elected office for 27 years, have raised and spent millions of dollars campaigning for public office, and are campaigning on taxpayer dollars requires significant resources and significant investment,” Ahlquist senior adviser Travis Hawkes said in a news release.

Ahlquist’s other donors include the Zions Bank PAC, which contributed $2,500. Ahlquist developed the new Zions Bank building on 8th and Main streets in Downtown Boise. Other donors include Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd; Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas; and Alscott Inc. of Boise.

Ahlquist spent more than his two main GOP rivals spent combined, including nearly $470,000 on broadcast advertising alone.

Raul Labrador: Raised $364,246, spent $277,578. Has $374,490 on hand.

The outgoing 1st Congressional District representative tapped into conservative circles in the Statehouse and on Capitol Hill.

He received support from eight sitting legislators, including House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude of Nampa and Rep. Heather Scott of Blanchard. He also received donations from House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and the Jobs, Freedom and Security PAC, headed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

In a news release Wednesday evening, Labrador emphasized grassroots support. “The small contributions of $10, $5, and even $3 are the donations that impact me the most.”

In its report, the Labrador campaign itemized each donation — even though state law only requires campaigns to itemize donations of $50 or more. The smallest donation, from Joseph Young of Dunn Loring, Va., came to 21 cents.

Brad Little: Raised $514,059, spent $324,368. Has $638,949 on hand.

The outgoing lieutenant governor — and Otter’s preferred successor — garnered support from a long list of current and past legislators and prominent Republicans.

House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg headed a list of 22 current lawmakers who kicked money into Little’s campaign. He also received support from former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, former Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and former Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb.

On the education front, Little received support from state superintendent Sherri Ybarra; Skip Oppenheimer, one of several business leaders who served on Otter’s higher education task force; and Boise district Superintendent Don Coberly.

Little also received support from several prominent Idaho corporations, including Micron Technology, CenturyLink and Union Pacific Railroad.

The Democratic money race

A.J. Balukoff: Raised $181,271, spent $143,699. Has $37,572 on hand.

So far, the accountant, businessman and longtime Boise school trustee is largely self-financing his gubernatorial campaign. He kicked in $175,000 of his own money during the latest filing period. Balukoff spent nearly $3.6 million of his own money in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Otter in 2014.

Paulette Jordan: Raised $6,397, spent $1,090. Has $5,307 on hand.

Jordan, a second-term state representative from Plummer, is a late entry in the race. She announced her gubernatorial bid on Dec. 7 — barely three weeks before the end of this fundraising cycle.

Disclosure: Alscott’s director is J.B. Scott. Scott is chairman of the board of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, which funds Idaho Education News.

More reading: State superintendent candidates continue to run a shoestring campaign.

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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