Wilson outraised Ybarra in superintendent’s race

Cindy Wilson outraised incumbent Sherri Ybarra by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio, in her unsuccessful run for state superintendent.

And that funding disparity tells only part of the story. It doesn’t count more than $425,000 in third-party spending that broke in Wilson’s favor.

The Republican Ybarra won re-election Nov. 6, defeating her Democratic challenger by 17,000 votes. The election is history, but this week, candidates and political committees had to file a new batch of campaign finance reports.

The reports outline spending in the final weeks of the election. And they show that Ybarra won despite a big fundraising disadvantage — much as she did in 2014.

The big dollars were spent in third-party electioneering.

Our Schools, Our Future, a fledgling Boise group, spent $173,340 on pro-Wilson ads.

Riverbend Management Inc. — an Idaho Falls-based company tied to Frank VanderSloot, the billionaire CEO of Melaleuca Inc. — spent $6,122 on a Facebook-based campaign criticizing Ybarra.

As previously disclosed, the National Education Association kicked in $249,000 for an anti-Ybarra television ad, coordinated by the union’s statewide affiliate, the Idaho Education Association.

By contrast, only one small third-party electioneering effort supported Ybarra. The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee spent $828 on pro-Ybarra online ads, including $200 with Redoubt News, a hardline conservative website.

The candidates’ latest reports showed Wilson widening her fundraising advantage in the runup to the election:


Contributions, Oct. 22-Nov. 16: $9,515. Contributions, calendar year: $48,837.

Notable contributions: Winning for Idaho, a pro-gaming PAC, $2,000; Rep. Megan Blanksma, a Hammett Republican recently elected to the House’s majority caucus chair, $1,000; Cathyanne Nonini, the wife of former state Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, $1,000.

Ybarra put much of her campaign money into a relatively modest broadcast campaign. She spent $11,975 with Peppershock Media of Nampa.


Contributions, Oct. 22-Nov. 16: $18,008. Contributions, calendar year: $142,698.

Notable contributions: Wilson received $5,000 apiece from Melaleuca and VanderSloot, normally a prominent supporter of Republican candidates. She also received $2,000 from The Confluence Fund, a PAC headed by former state Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston; and $1,000 from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan’s campaign.

Wilson’s biggest expenditures were with Singletrack LLC of Boise, which received $26,951 for management services, ad preparation and “general operational expenses.”

More reading: A look at fundraising in other statewide races, from Cynthia Sewell of the Idaho Statesman.


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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