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More than 20% of Labrador’s fundraising thus far is designated for the general election

Of the $309,046 that Raul Labrador has raised for his run for 2018 governor so far, $65,000 – more than 20 percent – is designated for the general election, not the primary election. That’s because the donors involved had already given the maximum amount for the primary – $5,000 apiece – and then gave more, also giving the maximum $5,000 each for the general election. So does that mean Labrador can’t spend that $65,000 on the hotly contested primary election campaign, in which he faces two other high-profile Republican rivals, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Boise physician and developer Tommy Ahlquist?

Not necessarily. According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, the impact of the general-election designation is this: If Labrador doesn’t win the primary, he would then have to refund all those amounts back to the donors, as he wouldn’t be running in the general election. “The limits section says you’re limited to $5,000 for an election,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst. “So if he doesn’t go on to the general election, basically, he doesn’t have any ability to keep the money.”

But if Labrador were to spend the money on the primary campaign and then win the primary, there’d be no requirement for repayment, nor is there a restriction on when those particular dollars get spent. Hurst said that’s because the Secretary of State’s office wouldn’t know “which $5,000 is it.”

Candidates have been hit by this requirement in the past, Hurst said, after they gambled that they’d win the primary and didn’t – and had to refund general election-designated contributions. “Typically they’re legislative district candidates, and sometimes local ones,” he said.

Little reported receiving just $5,000 in general election-designated contributions so far; Ahlquist reported just $3,500.

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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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