U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, the heir-apparent to retiring Republican Gov. Phil Batt, had a lucrative December despite no serious challenger in sight for the state’s highest office.
The campaign finance disclosure report filed late Monday with the secretary of state’s office showed Kempthorne’s new gubernatorial committee raised nearly $200,000 in December.
With the $8,500 raised during the six weeks between December and his mid-October declaration of that he would run, Kempthorne had more than $200,000 in the bank. He likely will report hundreds of thousands more in his Senate campaign committee treasury. In July, that campaign fund had a balance of more than $300,000.
No viable Democrat has been mentioned as a possible challenge to the one-term senator and former Boise mayor.
Batt closed out 1997 with $77,000 in his campaign treasury, but Chief of Staff Jeff Malmen said that money has been returned to the donors since the first of this year and the entire campaign operation will be closed out before spring.
The situation also continued to look good for conservative 1st District Rep. Helen Chenoweth. Her two opponents - Republican businessman Tony Paquin in the May primary and Democrat Dan Williams in the November general election - each reported little in the way of cash.
For the first time in her congressional campaign career, Chenoweth reported opening an election year with a substantial balance and negligible third-party debts. She had more than $100,000 in the bank on Jan. 1.
Paquin essentially financed his campaign through the second-half of 1997, using $22,000 of his own money to complement just $9,000 in contributions to cover more than $29,000 in expenditures.
Williams, the Boise attorney who came within 6,500 votes of Chenoweth in 1996, reported a moribund campaign in 1997, closing out the year with $5,100 in cash to cover $4,300 in bills.
The tables were just the opposition at the beginning of 1996. Chenoweth opened that election year with $47,000 in third-party debts and just $51,000 in cash while Williams was debt-free with $46,000 in cash on hand.
Chenoweth went on to raise more than $820,000 the rest of that year to end up spending a congressional election record of more than $1million to claim a second term.