It took more than a year, but Republican Sen. Larry Craig has finally paid off the nearly $200,000 debt he rolled up in easily winning a second six-year term in 1996.
The campaign finance disclosure report filed on Thursday with the secretary of state showed that Craig made what apparently was the final payment on the debt last Dec. 14 - almost $13,000 to campaign operative Al Henderson of Boise.
Craig began the second half of 1997 owing Henderson $34,000 and campaign manager Mike Reynoldson $7,000 in what were described as bonuses for the landslide victory over Democrat Walt Minnick.
The report showed both debts were cleared although only one $4,200 salary payment to Reynoldson and two salary payments totaling $21,000 to Henderson were recorded in the disbursement section.
Craig raised $72,000 during the last six months of 1997 on top of the $16,000 he had in the bank on July 1, enabling him to cover the final debts and leave $20,000 to keep a skeleton operation going through the years until the 2002 campaign when he would face re-election.
Craig spent $2.7 million to claim 57 percent of the vote against Minnick, who spent $2.1 million in the losing effort - more than half from his own pocket.
In the 2nd District congressional race to succeed Republican Michael Crapo, who is running for the U.S. Senate, House Speaker Michael Simpson put his money on the line in his bid for the GOP nomination.
The Blackfoot Republican secured a $100,000 line of credit from The Bank of Commerce last November and over the next month pumped $50,000 of it into his campaign.
The signature loan carries an interest rate of 10.5 percent and must be repaid by the end of this year.
Simpson received only two $100 contributions during the final two months of 1997 and made only limited expenditures to leave him with $42,500 in the bank as 1998 began.
Also seeking the GOP nomination are state Sen. Stan Hawkins of Ucon, state Rep. Mark Stubbs of Twin Falls and former state Sens. Dane Watkins and Ann Rydalch of Idaho Falls.