A week after this year’s primary election, Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, did something rather unusual: He made a $300 donation to his GOP primary opponent’s campaign. That made Hill the biggest donor to challenger Scott Smith’s campaign other than Smith himself.
Hill, a seventh-term senator and retired CPA, defeated Smith 77.1 percent to 22.9 percent in the primary. Smith raised $1,484 for his campaign, including more than $600 of his own money. Hill raised $45,283 in campaign funds since Jan. 1, spent $24,630, and has $35,531 in his campaign fund; his expenditures included multiple contributions to other GOP campaigns.
“It’s no big deal – I felt like he ran a good campaign,” Hill said of his donation to Smith. “He stayed on the issues. We disagreed on some issues, but he stayed away from attacking characters and integrity.” Hill said after the election, he noticed that Smith had some campaign debt. “I said, well, I can’t take care of all your debt but I’d just like to help if that’s OK, and he said that was great,” Hill said. “He’s just a good guy, he’s a very nice guy.”
He added, “I probably wouldn’t have felt that way if he’d run a mean-spirited campaign, but he didn’t. We went to candidate forums. We definitely had differing opinions on things like the health insurance exchange. … I just thought he did a good campaign, and I believe in the political process. I think competition is good in this regard. It brings the issues to a higher level. People listen to them more than if they’re only hearing one side.”