Mountains of cash are punctuating Idaho’s gubernatorial primary election with just a week to go before voters head to the polls.
Nearly $7.5 million alone has been raised among affiliated PACs and the campaigns of the Republican frontrunners, developer Tommy Ahlquist, Congressman Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, since 2017.
Most of that stems from Ahlquist, whose campaign fundraising arm raked in nearly $2.2 million since January. Combined with the roughly $775,000 he raised last year and the nearly $1.3 million collected by Idaho First PAC, which backs Ahlquist, the two brought in $4.2 million for the entire season.
Labrador raised another $366,000 over the last five months. In total, the three-term congressman has gathered just over $1 million. Rand Paul’s Protect Freedom PAC recently dropped $100,000 on an ad buy for Labrador as well.
Little has raised about $1.3 million since the beginning of the year. Throughout the primary season, the longtime Idaho politician and affiliated Independent Republicans of Idaho PAC and OTTERPAC have drummed up a combined $2.2 million.
Both Ahlquist and Little pumped in significant amounts of their own money to their campaigns since January. Ahlquist donated nearly $1.9 million, while Little loaned himself $800,000.
Steve Pankey, a former property manager, has mostly sunk in his own money to his campaign, totaling about $255,000.
"I am quite sure this is the most expensive primary in Idaho history," says Gary Moncrief, a political science professor with Boise State University. Moncrief believes it might even be the most money raised for any kind of election in the Gem State.
Three other candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor hadn’t yet filed their campaign finance disclosure reports as of Tuesday evening.
Cash flow isn’t a problem for those hoping to get the Democratic Party’s nod, either.
Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff has chipped in $2.3 million of his own money during the race. He’s collected about $86,000 otherwise.
Former state Rep. Paulette Jordan has raised nearly $370,000 since January, with significant support also coming from tribal governments across the country. Jordan, who represented parts of the Coeur d’Alene reservation, served as a tribal council member prior to running for the state legislature.
And business lawyer and organic farmer Peter Dill brought in $20,000 this year – nearly all of it his own.
Voters cast their ballots May 15.
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