The post-primary numbers are in for campaign spending in the primary race for governor this year, and they’re pretty eye-popping.
All told, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Idaho have spent more than $11 million between them — and the November general election still is ahead.
“That is an impressive amount of money,” said Boise State University political scientist Jaclyn Kettler. “We could actually see less money spent in the general than the primary, which will be interesting.”
The biggest spender was GOP hopeful Tommy Ahlquist, a Boise developer and physician who contributed more than $3 million of his own funds to his campaign. Ahlquist reported spending $4.47 million, including more than half a million of his own money that he loaned his campaign just a week before the May 15 primary. Ahlquist came out of the campaign with $709,000 in debt, including that $550,000 loan.
The second-highest spender was Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who won the GOP primary and faces Democratic nominee Paulette Jordan in November. Little reported spending a total of $2.5 million since he entered the race in 2016. He finished the primary campaign with $800,000 in debt to himself, and just over $61,000 in the bank for the upcoming general election campaign.
Third highest was Democratic hopeful A.J. Balukoff, at just under $2.4 million. Balukoff, like Ahlquist, provided the majority of his campaign funds from his own pocket, putting in more than $2 million.
First District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador was in third place for campaign spending among the Republican hopefuls, spending a total of $1.03 million — $730,000 of that in 2018, and $298,803 in 2017. Labrador, who told Politico last week that he doesn’t know what he’ll do next — he chose to run for governor rather than seek a fifth term in Congress — came out of the primary with no debt and $79,146 in his campaign fund.
Jordan, the Democratic nominee, reported spending a total of $395,044 since she entered the race; nearly all of that was in 2018, as she reported spending only $1,089 in 2017. She emerged from the primary with $16,329 in credit card debt, but $139,059 in the bank for the November campaign.
Republican Steve Pankey was the only other gubernatorial hopeful who reported major campaign spending; the self-funded candidate reported spending $173,464, nearly all of that on advertising to promote his views. He received 1.4 percent of the vote.
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