October 14, 2012 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: PAC didn’t overlook Nonini when making donations

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – In practically every legislative district in Idaho where there’s a contested race – and even one where there’s not – the Senate Republican PAC has made a campaign contribution to the Republican candidate. The two exceptions: Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, in District 8, and Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, who’s running for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene.

It turns out that Pearce was left out by mistake. “It was an oversight if we didn’t make him one,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “We need to make one to him. … It wasn’t intentional.” Pearce, chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, faces Democrat Alma Hasse in the November election.

Nonini was another matter – it was no oversight.

Hill said, “We had talked to him. He had $21,000 at the end of the last reporting period and his opponent had like $30 or something like that, and it didn’t seem like he needed the support on that.”

The latest campaign finance reports show Nonini has raised more than $28,000 for his Senate bid, spent $9,143, and had $18,932 on hand; his Democratic opponent, Kristy Reed Johnson, had raised $1,089, spent $394, and had $665 on hand.

Hill added, “Might there be feelings if he received funds from that PAC when some of the people that helped raise the money for that are people that he tried to get defeated? There may have been. That may have been part of our consideration, but it certainly was not the only consideration.”

Nonini targeted three sitting GOP senators for defeat in the primary, pouring thousands into their primary opponents’ campaigns, but failed in all three cases to unseat them.

The remaining Senate GOP incumbents and aspiring GOP senators, even those facing long odds, got donations from the leadership PAC of $250, $500 or $1,000 each. Hill said the money was allocated “where we felt the need was and where the funds would do the most good.” The unopposed senator who received money – $500 – was Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. Her Democratic opponent withdrew from the race in June. Hill said, “I hate to appear behind the times, but I don’t think we knew that.”

Campaign goes septic?

One of the most offbeat items to turn up in the latest batch of campaign finance reports is this: A $109.99 payment to Ace Septic Tank Service in Sagle, filed under the category for campaign event-related expenses. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, laughed when asked about the entry in his report. “Maybe I’m the first one to ever have to rent a port-a-potty for my campaign,” he said. “Does that say anything about me? Probably nothing good.”

The event in question was Gov. Butch Otter’s “Capitol for a Day” at Nordman last month, held outside the Priest Lake Lodge on the shores of Priest Lake. “We had 350 people there, and there’s no way that Nordman’s sewer would’ve probably handled that at one time. You’ve only got one facility for men and one for women,” Anderson said. His campaign was among the event’s sponsors; in addition to renting two portable toilets, he bought 300 pounds of beef for the barbecue and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of potato salad, beans and fixings. Others helped out, too, doing the cooking and serving; the Lion’s Club set up the tents. “All the resorts pitched in – they all brought tables and chairs,” Anderson said. The crowd included “pretty much everybody from the lake, on a Wednesday in September.”

Asked if it was his biggest campaign event of the year, Anderson said, “By far – it was by far the biggest campaign event for my whole life. And the funnest I’ve ever had.” Otter’s “Capitol for a Day” events allow folks in small towns to ask questions of the governor and top state agency officials; Lt. Gov. Brad Little and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna were among those attending. “There wasn’t a question left unasked,” Anderson said.

The hottest topic of the day: salt on the roads. “People have been noticing their cars are getting rusty now the last two or three years much more than they ever have in the past,” Anderson said. “That was a big topic.”

Bringing in big names

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will come to Boise on Oct. 24 to hold a fundraiser for GOP U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, including a roundtable discussion and reception. Labrador said, “I am thrilled that Congressman Eric Cantor is coming to Idaho. He is a thoughtful and effective leader who understands the challenges Idaho families face everyday. I look forward to helping him become better acquainted with our great state.”

Meanwhile, longtime Rep. Barney Frank, of Massachusetts, sent out a fundraising email last week for Labrador’s Democratic challenger, Jimmy Farris, writing, “We have to fight back against the Tea Partiers and their wealthy backers, which is why I volunteered to help Jimmy, who is one of their targets, because of his commitment to the values we believe in, and that they have never been so seriously challenged as they are this year.”

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