Ybarra fails to back up JFAC endorsement claims

Republican state superintendent hopeful Sherri Ybarra’s campaign has been unable to back up endorsement claims Ybarra made during a debate televised statewide Tuesday night.

Sherri Ybarra square
Sherri Ybarra

Ybarra, running against Democrat Jana Jones in the race to succeed Tom Luna, claimed Tuesday that she has the “support of the majority of JFAC, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that deals with finances, that is behind me every step of the way…”

Jones immediately challenged Ybarra’s claim. “I know that Sherri hasn’t talked to all of JFAC. To say she has the support of JFAC is probably, to me, it’s inappropriate. She may have talked to individual members and have their support, but not the support of JFAC as an entire committee.”

Ybarra’s response: “They are listed on my website, and they most certainly do support me.”

Ybarra’s website lists endorsements from 16 of the state’s 105 legislators, and just two lawmakers on the powerful 20-member budget-setting committee – Rep. Maxine Bell, a Republican JFAC co-chair from Jerome, and Sen. Shawn Keough, a Republican vice chair from Sandpoint.

Idaho Education News requested an interview with Ybarra to clarify her statements. Her campaign instead referred Idaho Education News to the list of endorsements on her website. The campaign later sent an email claiming endorsements from five other JFAC members: Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, JFAC’s co-chair; Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett; Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise; Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; and Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls.

This means, by the campaign’s own count, Ybarra has formal backing from only seven of 20 JFAC members — and only seven of the committee’s 16 Republicans.

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Ybarra can accurately claim support from the committee’s two powerful chairs, Bell and Cameron.

“As superintendent, I think (Ybarra) gives me the best chance to get as much money for education as possible,” Cameron told Idaho Education News Wednesday.

Another Ybarra claim from Tuesday’s debate fails to hold up. “I have support of the majority of the legislators and I will be a champion in working alongside them.”

Based on the endorsements listed on her website, and the endorsements subsequently emailed to Idaho Education News, Ybarra has support of 23 of 105 legislators. A 24th lawmaker, House Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins, R-Nampa, has contributed to the Ybarra campaign. But even at that, 24 lawmakers represent less than one-fourth of the Legislature, and barely one-fourth of the 85 Republicans in the Legislature. (The full list of endorsements appears at the conclusion of this article.)

Additional Republicans may well support Ybarra – and likely do – but their names did not appear on documents the campaign provided after Ybarra’s debate claims were called into question.

In August, another one of Ybarra’s claims of support was called into question. Ybarra wrongly identified GOP primary rival Randy Jensen on her website as a supporter. Ybarra later removed Jensen’s name from her endorsement list.

Click here to watch Tuesday’s entire hour-long debate between Ybarra and Jones via Idaho Public Television.

Ybarra’s endorsements

  • Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, Rexburg.
  • Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, Idaho Falls.
  • Senator Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, Boise.
  • Sen. Cliff Bayer, Boise.
  • Sen. Bert Brackett, Rogerson,
  • Sen. Dean Cameron, Rupert.
  • Sen. Dan Johnson, Lewiston.
  • Sen. Shawn Keough, Sandpoint.
  • Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, Huston.
  • Sen. Jim Patrick, Twin Falls.
  • Sen. Jim Rice, Caldwell.
  • Sen. Steven Thayn, Emmett.
  • House Speaker Scott Bedke, Oakley.
  • House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, Star.
  • House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, Nampa.
  • House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude, Nampa.
  • Rep. Maxine Bell, Jerome.
  • Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, Eagle.
  • Rep. Stephen Hartgen, Twin Falls.
  • Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho Falls.
  • Rep. Kelley Packer, McCammon.
  • Rep. Jeff Thompson, Idaho Falls.
  • Rep. Julie VanOrden, Pingree.