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.