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Eye On Boise

Smallest spender finished first for Supt., one who dug deepest into own pocket finished last for Secty of State

How much difference does money make in an Idaho election? Judging by the two four-way races in yesterday’s GOP primary, not a heck of a lot. Sherri Ybarra, the candidate who won the four-way race for state superintendent of schools, raised and spent by far the least of the four GOP candidates, just $2,850. Second-place finisher Randy Jensen raised $7,124; third-place Andy Grover raised $41,854 including $5,000 from Melaleuca Inc. and $5,500 of his own money; and fourth-place finisher John Eynon raised $16,284. “Sherri spent about 3 cents per vote for her win last night,” current state Superitendent Tom Luna said at today’s GOP unity rally, “and I think some of us on the stand here wonder how that is possible and how we can duplicate that.”

In the Secretary of State’s race, it may appear at first glance that the GOP primary winner, Lawerence Denney, vastly outraised his rivals. But of the $164,071 Denney raised, a whole lot was from ticket sales for his “Duck Dynasty” fundraiser at the Idaho Center, on which he also spent well over $100,000, including $50,000 to William Morris Entertainment, $53,000 to the Idaho Center and $2,900 for custom duck calls. Asked if he made money on the event, Denney said, “We didn’t. We about broke even.”

He added, “We do think that it gave us a bump here in the Treasure Valley, because of all the advertising” for the reality TV stars’ appearance.

Among the other GOP rivals for Secretary of State, Phil McGrane raised $61,000 and came in second; Evan Frasure raised $20,752 and came in third; and Mitch Toryanski raised $47,514, including $32,000 of his own money, and finished fourth.

Denney said, “With four of us in the race, we were all short of money, and certainly a lot of money infused into one campaign may have made a difference in this campaign. Same thing with the superintendent’s race – if there’d been a lot of money, it may have been a different outcome.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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