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Romney’s Mormon mission partner recalls time in Paris

Mulloy Hansen had been a Mormon missionary in France for just a few months in early 1967 when he got word he was getting a new roommate and partner to seek converts in a working class section of Paris.
The 19-year-old Canadian teenager, who'd spent part of his life on a farm in Alberta, knew only a little about his new mission partner: He was the new leader for that district of the Mormon mission to France. He was a bit older, and had been in France about eight months longer. His father was a former Detroit auto executive who’d become a governor.
His new mission partner’s name: Mitt Romney. . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Gregoire pushes education funding to center of debate

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Jay Inslee talks charter schools to WEA
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Jay Inslee talks collective bargaining to WEA


Job creation may be the main talking point of the two main candidates for governor, but another topic is rivaling jobs as a top issue in the campaign.

That’s thanks in part to outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has loudly backed the creation of new taxes to support the state’s Constitutional requirement to provide quality basic education.

The state Supreme Court ruled early this year that the state hasn’t met its obligation to adequately fund education programs.

But both Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee — Gregoire’s pick to succeed her — disagree with her assertion that more taxes are necessary.

Gregoire spoke strongly last week to the Washington Education Association for the need for “new revenue” to raise an extra $1 billion in the next two-year budget. The teachers union held its annual convention at the Spokane Convention Center.

The next day, however, Inslee addressed the WEA convention and largely avoided the topic of how to address the the Supreme Court ruling.

In an interview before the speech, Inslee said he would focus efforts to improve education funding on improving the economy, which would increase tax revenue.

“The most fundamental thing we need to do is get people back to work in this state,” he said. “That’s the real driver of revenue creation in our state.”

Inslee said he also would find savings by instituting efficiency programs that have grown popular in corporate America as well as in some city’s like Spokane under former Mayor Mary Verner.

McKenna says growing the economy is important, but says Democratic administrations have allowed the percentage of the state budget devoted to education to shrink as other programs have grown. He said he would reverse that trend.

“Moving forward we have to focus on reform and on spending more of the state budget on education,” McKenna said in an interview last week. “That means we’re not going to spend as much on other parts of the budget – that we won’t allow other parts of the budget to grow as fast as they have been growing.”

Parker again without challenger

So much for magical thinking.

The Occupy Spokane activist who challenged state Rep. Kevin Parker's reelection bid already has dropped out of the race.

Wayne Kyle Spitzer, a Democrat, confirmed today that he decided against running for Parker's 6th District House seat. He filed paperwork officially dropping out on Monday.

Spitzer said recently that Parker would be tough to beat, but that with some "magical thinking" it could be done.

His withdrawal means that for the second election cycle in a row, Parker will not face a challenge to reelection.

Grant on 1st CD Dem primary result: ‘It doesn’t actually make sense’

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how Democratic congressional candidate Jimmy Farris says he's learned a lesson, after he didn't actively campaign during his primary race and ended up with only a five percentage point lead over a mentally ill candidate who's facing felony charges. Farris lost to Cynthia Clinkingbeard in four of the five northernmost counties, plus two others. Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor of public policy, said, "Apparently a considerable amount of the voters didn't know either candidate," and just picked a name. "There is something to be said for a positive campaign where you're introducing yourself to the voters, and apparently he didn't do that either."

Weatherby said it was unlikely that Republicans sought to make mischief in the Democratic primary by voting for Clinkingbeard over Farris. "There was too much action in the Republican primaries," he said. Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant said, "I would just caution anyone from trying to draw any conclusions from the numbers, because it doesn't actually make sense." He noted that Democratic turnout was low, and Democrats allowed independents, third-party members and even Republicans to vote in their primary, while Republicans closed theirs to all but registered Republicans. "Once we get the data, we'll be able to tell who voted in which primary, and that will give us the answer," Grant said.

Spokane GOP challenges Roskelley run

The Spokane County Republican Party plans to go to court this week in an effort to block the county commissioner campaign of Democrat John Roskelley.

The county GOP filed a challenge to Roskelley's current voter registration on Friday, and asked Auditor Vicky Dalton to remove his name from the ballot for the District 1 commissioner race, where he is challenging incumbent Republican Commissioner Todd Mielke. But an auditor has no authority to strike a name from the ballot, Dalton said, and the party will have to convince a Superior Court judge to take  him off the ballot.

"This is a very clear-cut case," Matthew Pederson, county GOP chairman said, contending Roskelley is trying to "deceive voters" with the address.

"It's just politics," said Roskelley.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Farris on narrow primary win: ‘I’ve always been better in the 2nd half anyways’

Idaho Democratic 1st District congressional candidate Jimmy Farris, whose 53%-47% win over Cynthia Clinkingbeard in the primary was something of a stunner, given that Farris was the party's anointed choice and Clinkingbeard didn't campaign, after an arrest for pulling a gun on employees at a Staples store, had these thoughts when asked today when asked about the unexpectedly close margin:

"I think, ultimately, for me, I learned a lesson: You can't take anything for granted," Farris said. "We made a conscious decision not to campaign against her. I didn't want to highlight any of the issues that she was having or anything that was happening with her. We chose not to debate or do anything that would really put her situation kind of in the public or highlight it more than it already was. So I think … it was a mistake on our part, not to really actively campaign as if there was a primary. I chose to try to protect her privacy as much as possible." Clinkingbeard, a former physician, suffers from mental illness.

Farris is a first-time candidate who's a former NFL football player and a native of Lewiston. He said he didn't do "any real campaigning in the northern part of the state especially" during the primary campaign. Clinkingbeard won four of the five northernmost counties in the Idaho Panhandle: Benewah, Bonner, Boundary and Kootenai. She also edged Farris in Canyon and Payette counties.

Farris said he's heard speculation about crossover voting and other factors, but doesn't want to weigh in on that without more analysis. "Lesson learned, chalk it up," he said. "I've always been better in the second half anyways, so, made some halftime adjustments, we're moving forward focusing on Congressman Labrador."

Waite drops out, endorses Snyder

Downtown Spokane businessman John Waite said Friday that he has decided not to run for the state House afterall.

Waite said earlier this month that he would run as a Democrat for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, who is giving up his seat to run for state Senate.

With five candidates who have filed for the seat, Waite said he decided this afternoon that it already was too crowded and that the entry of former City Councilman Bob Apple would make the race more difficult because he was hoping for strong support in Apple's former council district in Northeast Spokane. Waite ran for Apple's seat last year.

Waite said he will support City Councilman Jon Snyder in the race because of Snyder's experience in small business and his work promoting sustainability.

"He fits my agenda as well as anybody," he said.

Primary election voters spurn tax-protesting lawmaker

Among the fallout from Tuesday's primary election:  Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart's legislative career will end this year. Hart was defeated in a four-way GOP primary, edged out by Ed Morse, a longtime real estate appraiser from Hayden. Now Morse will face former longtime Kootenai County Clerk Dan English in November.

Despite high-dollar attempts by interest groups and even other lawmakers to target various legislative incumbents around the state for defeat, Hart and eastern Idaho Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, were the only legislative incumbents defeated by challengers in the primary. Both incumbent Kootenai County commissioners also held their seats. Meanwhile, Idaho's new closed primary drew record low turnout of just 23 percent of registered voters. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Six of Otter’s seven endorsees win their legislative primary races

Idaho Gov. Otter endorsed seven candidates in yesterday's GOP primary for legislative seats; all but one won. The exception: Former Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, who lost a rematch with Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, who unseated him two years ago.

The others: Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, who defeated Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, in a redistricting-forced face-off; Todd Lakey, who defeated Rep. Bob Schaefer, R-Nampa, in the GOP primary for an open Senate seat; Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, who won a three-way GOP primary for an open Senate seat in District 14; Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who defeated challenger Maurice Clements; appointed Sen. Jim Rice, who beat Kent Marmon in the GOP primary for John McGee's former Senate seat in District 10; and Rick Youngblood, who won a three-way GOP primary for an open House seat in District 12.

Otter expects Idaho GOP to re-examine closed primary, after record low turnout

Gov. Butch Otter told the Associated Press today that he expects GOP leaders at their state party convention in June to debate the merits of the party's new closed primary election, after Tuesday's record-low turnout. "It will be, 'What should we do? Should we make any changes?' " Otter told AP reporter John Miller; click below for Miller's full report. Otter was among those who opposed closing the primary, but the Idaho Republican Party sued the state and won, overturning the previous open primary system. Then, the party opted to close its primary vote to anyone other than registered Republicans.

Grant’s post-primary message: ‘Vote Democratic’

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant has issued a post-primary election statement calling on Idahoans to vote Democratic in November. “In many Republican races, voters saw a choice between someone they were angry with versus someone they were scared of,” Grant said. “Republicans who prevailed, by and large, are the same people who cut education funding and who have treated state government like it is their own private club.” You can read his full statement here.

Semanko pleads for GOP unity

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko has sent out a post-primary message, pleading for Republicans to come together after yesterday's bitterly divisive primary election. "2012 brings a great opportunity for Idaho Republicans - we must not, and we will not squander it," Semanko writers. Of the primary he said, "Some would argue that this competition damaged the Party; I argue the opposite. I believe that the enthusiasm and energy we witnessed speaks to the strength of the Idaho Republican Party." Click below for his full message.

Broadsword wins Bonner commission race

Continuing the statewide trend of more-moderate Republicans winning in yesterday's GOP primary, Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, defeated Bonner County Commission Chairman Cornel Rasor, and Broadsword will become a Bonner County commissioner, as no Democrats filed for the seat. Rasor is the current chairman of the Bonner County Republican Central Committee. Broadsword, a log home company owner, is a fourth-term state senator.

Rasor is a tea party backer and property rights activist who declared on his re-election website, "Zoning and owning are incompatible." As commission chairman, he hired local tea party leader Pam Stout to coordinate a controversial county "Property Rights Council." As central committee chairman, he sent a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010 seeking Arizona license plates to decorate the GOP central committee's county fair booth, after members objected to the fair's "fiesta" theme, saying decorating to the theme might be mistaken for a weakening of their resolve that English should be the primary U.S. language, or their support for cracking down on illegal immigration.

Broadsword got 2,857 votes, 51 percent, to Rasor's 2,744 votes, 49 percent.

Rep. Hart loses in GOP primary; Ed Morse to face Dan English in November

And now, well after midnight North Idaho time (and after 1 a.m. Boise time), Kootenai County has its final results, and they show an upset: Rep. Phil Hart has lost to challenger Ed Morse in the GOP primary. Hart had 1,746 votes, 31.2 percent, while Morse had 1,984 votes, 35.34 percent. Trailing were Ron Vieselmeyer with 1,116 votes, 19.94 percent, and Fritz Wiedenhoff, 751 votes, 13.42 percent. Morse will face former Kootenai County Clerk Dan English, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November for the House District 2B seat.

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Vick defeated former Sen. Mike Jorgenson in the primary, and Rep. Vito Barbieri defeated challenger Mark Fisher. In the race for the open House District 3A seat, Ron Mendive edged Jeff Tyler in the GOP primary, 50.14 percent to 49.86 percent - a difference of just nine votes. Rep. Frank Henderson defeated his primary challenger, 55.57 percent to 44.43 percent. And Luke Malek won the GOP primary for the House 4A seat, 65.5 percent to 34.5 percent for Jeff Ames.

First numbers finally in from Kootenai County: Hart trails Ed Morse

Finally, at long last, the first set of numbers from Kootenai County: In District 2, Sen. Steve Vick is leading former Sen. Mike Jorgenson, 59.4%-40.6%; Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, is leading challenger Mark Fisher, 53.1-46.9; and Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, is trailing challenger Ed Morse. Morse has 38.1%, Hart 31.1%, Ron Vieselmeyr 17.9% and Fritz Wiedenhoff 13%.

Meanwhile, in the District 3A race, Jeff Tyler leads Ron Mendive, 55.5-44.5; in 3B, Rep. Frank Henderson is holding off challenger Jack Schroeder 57.9-42.1; and for House 4A, Luke Malek leads Jeff Ames, 61-39.

GOP incumbents across state hold off challenges from the right in primary

Votes still are being tallied, but all three District 1 GOP incumbents appear to have easily held off challenges from tea party candidates. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, had 70 percent of the vote over GOP challenger Danielle Ahrens, with 41 percent reporting. Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, had 66 percent over Pam Stout, and Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, garnered 61 percent of the vote in early returns while holding off two primary challengers. They were among a number of GOP lawmakers across the state who faced challenges from the right in the primary and turned them back. Among them: Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who defeated Maurice Clements 60-40; Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, who carried 51 percent of the vote and defeated three challengers; Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, who defeated challenger Douglas Pickett 57 percent to 43 percent; and House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, who defeated two challengers.

Still unknown: Kootenai County. More than two and a half hours after the polls closed there, Kootenai hasn't reported out results from a single precinct.

Results start to trickle in…

Election results are starting to flow in, though it's just a trickle to start with. No big surprises as of yet, with Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador easily defeating their primary challengers - 71%-29% for Simpson over Chick Heileson, and 82%-18% for Labrador over Reed McCandless - and Democratic hopefuls Nicole LeFavour and Jimmy Farris also easily defeating their primary challengers. That's with  108 of 945 precincts reporting. The Idaho Secretary of State's office has live results here.

GOP leaders talk unity while awaiting results of divisive primary election

At the Idaho Republican Party's election-night watch party at the Riverside Hotel tonight, party Chairman Norm Semanko led off by introducing Gov. Butch Otter. There are very few election results in yet; just a smattering of numbers from a few counties. Otter talked about the race for the White House and California's problems - repeating his earlier comment that "if California were my horse, I'd shoot it, it is so sick," and forgot to introduce his wife, Lori. He also made no mention of the unprecedented divisiveness in the Idaho GOP this primary election season, saying only, "Let's bring this party together and go into November with victory on our minds and victory as our banner."

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna gave a campaign pitch for his "Students Come First" school reform laws, which are up for a referendum vote in November. "We know what's best for our children, and when we go to the polls in November we are going to vote yes … to keep these laws," he told the GOP crowd.

Semanko said as party members await the results, "We want you to talk about what you're going to do this November to make sure all of our candidates win." And GOP Congressman Raul Labrador told the crowd, "We have the choice of supporting the candidates that win (the GOP primary), or we have the choice of shutting the heck up."

Primary turnout light so far…

Initial reports are suggesting a light turnout for today's first-ever closed primary election in Idaho, though that could still change, since the 5-8 p.m. time is the heaviest voting period of the day. "From 5 to 8, you either make it or break it," said Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. "We just don't know."

When I voted around 2:30 p.m. (non-partisan ballot only), things were anything but busy, and the poll workers said they'd only seen about 100 people so far, a turnout comparable to the Greater Boise Auditorium District election last year. Said Ysursa, "Auditorium district elections are not big-turnout elections."

His office usually gets lots of calls on Election Day from voters unsure of where to go to vote; this year, he said, "I think people know where to vote - we're not getting those." His office is offering a handy polling place location lookup on its website, www.idahovotes.gov. But those typical calls have  been dwarfed by calls about the new closed GOP primary and new party registration system. "The No. 1 call is people complaining a little bit about why in the heck is my party preference a public record, and why are we doing this," Ysursa said. "We did expect those calls."

The reason: The Idaho Republican Party sued the state and won, overturning the previous primary election system, allowing it to close its primary to anyone other than registered Republicans, and bringing official registration by party to Idaho for the first time since statehood.

Idaho voters head to the polls for first closed primary election

Idaho voters go to the polls Tuesday - they're open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - for the first election under the state's new closed-primary system. Idaho's legislative districts have been redrawn since the last election, and many polling locations have changed. To check districts and where to vote, go to the Idaho Secretary of State's voter website, www.idahovotes.gov. This will also be the first Idaho election in which voters must register by party; click here for my full story at spokesman.com.

It’s happening again: GOP group tries to hijack another one’s name for campaign

Good grief. It turns out that it's not only up north that one warring GOP faction has tried to hijack another one's name (see this post from last week). It's happening in Twin Falls, too. Check out this press release from Twin Falls Republican Central Committee Chair Gretchen Clelland:




DATE: May, 14, 2012

FROM: Gretchen Clelland, Twin Falls County Republican Central Committee

TO: All Media




In the last several days leading up to the GOP Primary election material falsely claiming to represent the Twin Falls Republican Party has been distributed.


This is particularly true in the Castleford Precinct where incumbent Republican Precinct Committeeman Terry Kramer is being opposed by Rick Martin. Martin has distributed literature against Kramer which says Paid for by Republican Central Committee of Twin Falls County, Inc.”


This deception should in NO WAY lead anyone to believe that the Twin Falls Republican Party, or ANY official Republican organization IN ANY WAY supports Rick Martin or his tactics. Whatever the Republican Central Committee of Twin Falls County, Inc.” is, it is absolutely NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN ANY WAY.

More last-minute campaign money; PAC targets 2 county commission primaries

More last-minute campaign contributions, funneling of money between interconnected PACs and independent campaign expenditures are being reported today, the day before the primary election, with most coming from the same players. Here's today's roundup, updated as of 5 p.m.:

The Free Enterprise PAC reported spending $5,301 on an independent-expenditure campaign against Republican Lee Staker, who's running for re-election to the Bonneville County commission (Idaho Falls); and in favor of Brian Farnsworth, who's running in a three-way GOP primary for the Jefferson County commission (Rigby). The Free Enterprise PAC also reported receiving, on Thursday, $2,500 from the Idaho Land PAC, $4,500 from the Greater Education Movement, and $1,500 from GunPAC. All are among interconnected PACs operated by GOP consultant Lou Esposito. "We haven't restricted ourselves just to legislative races, but we're looking at races at all levels, and these were two that we thought made sense to get involved in," Esposito said. "We'll be working more in some of the other local races in the future."

Rep. Bob Nonini's Idaho Association for Good Government reported spending $2,626 on an independent campaign mailer Thursday for Scott Workman, the GOP primary challenger to Sen. John Tippets, R-Bennington. Idaho Chooses Life reported spending $2,021 since Saturday on ads in the Bonner Daily Bee targeting Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and favoring her challenger Danielle Ahrens; and $1,556 on ads in the Idaho Press Tribune targeting Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, and favoring her challenger, Maurice Clements.

IACI's Idaho Prosperity Fund has reported spending another $11,400 on independent mailers and ads for Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson; $2,500 to support Rep. Marv Hagedorn's bid for the Senate; $2,875 for a mailing and ads supporting Sen. Brent Hill, Rep. Dell Raybould and House hopeful Douglas Hancey Jr.; $2,225 on mailings and ads supporting Lodge and Reps. Gayle Batt and Christy Perry; and $3,500 supporting Tippets. Then it filed more reports at 4:55 p.m. today covering more spending on Saturday: Another $13,500 for Brackett; $1,350 in favor of James Holtzclaw, a House 20B hopeful; $4,750 in mailings and ads favoring Lodge and opposing Clements; another $2,000 backing Lodge; and $2,375 in favor of Lodge, Batt and Perry.

The Idaho Realtors PAC reported spending another $4,600 on mailings and ads backing Robert Anderst for the open District 12A House seat; the Idaho State Pharmacy Association PAC spent $1,113 on Saturday for a mailer supporting Lodge; and the Grassroots Liberty Coalition of Post Falls spent another $1,343 on ads and mailings supporting a list of candidates including Sen. Steve Vick, Reps. Phil Hart and Vito Barbieri, and House hopefuls Ron Mendive and Jack Schroeder, who is running against Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls.

Conservation Voters for Idaho Action reported late this afternoon that it spent $449 each for promotional items, like yard signs or buttons, for Boise Democratic House hopefuls Mat Erpelding and Holli High Woodings. Meanwhile, Idahoans for a Strong Economy, which shares an address and phone number with Conservation Voters for Idaho Action, reported spending $7,060 each for literature supporting Keough and Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, and $10,000 for surveys, with a third of that to benefit Keough and Corder, and the rest on behalf of candidates Matthew Faulks, Sen. Monty Pearce's GOP primary challenger; and Merrill Beyeler, one of five GOP primary challengers to Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis.

Meanwhile, Workman reported loaning his own campaign $3,378; the Nampa Firefighters PAC gave $1,000 to firefighter and District 2 House candidate Fritz Wiedenhoff; House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts collected $2,000 in donations from the Northwest Grocery Association and MIEC PAC, which advocates for tort reform in medical malpractice claims; Ridgeline Energy gave $1,000 each to Reps. George Eskridge and Christy Perry; and House 31A hopeful Robert Butler loaned his campaign $1,400.

Grant urges Dems, independents not to register GOP, Semanko defends closed primary

In messages ahead of tomorrow's first-ever closed Republican Party primary in Idaho - and the Democratic primary, which remains open to everyone - the chairmen of Idaho's Democratic and Republican parties have issued statements. Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko defends the closed primary, declaring, "We will have the right to select candidates who represent our values without interference from other parties or special interest groups for the first time in nearly 40 years." You can read his full statement here.

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant, meanwhile, is urging against calls for Democrats and independents to register as Republicans and vote in the GOP primary. "If Republicans want to fight it out for control of the Republican Party, then so be it.," writes Grant. "I have no reason to try to fix that. If they throw all the moderates out of their party, then I welcome them into mine." Click below for Grant's full statement.

Bumper crop of last-minute campaign contributions, independent expenditures

There's been a bumper crop this afternoon of reports of last-minute campaign contributions and independent expenditures filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's office. Among them: IACI's Idaho Prosperity Fund reported spending another $18,000 on independent mailings and ads supporting Reps. Joe Palmer, Mike Moyle, Reed DeMordaunt, Sens. John Tippets and Patti Anne Lodge, Senate hopeful Rep. Marv Hagedorn, and House hopefuls Robert Anderst and James Holtzclaw, who are seeking open seats.

Meanwhile, the Free Enterprise PAC reported $4,044 in independent expenditures for ads in the Bonner Bee against Sen. Shawn Keough and Rep. George Eskridge, on top of $2,022 it reported for the same thing yesterday; so far, Free Enterprise PAC hasn't disclosed the independent expenditures it made for mailers against the two candidates, which PAC coordinator Lou Esposito said are among the expenditures in its earlier PAC report, which doesn't indicate which candidate the mailers are supporting or opposing, as Idaho law requires. Today, a letter went out from the Idaho Secretary of State's office to all PACs warning them that all independent expenditures must be reported, including amounts and names of candidates supported or opposed; you can read that letter here.

Other independent expenditures reported today: Doyle Beck, brother of GOP activist Rod Beck, reported spending $4,505 on a campaign in regard to Idaho Falls House hopefuls Ron Lechelt and Greg Crockett, claiming his campaign is just to "educate" people about the two and not to support or oppose them. North Idaho PAC reported spending $3,487 for literature and postage in support of Ed Morse, one of three GOP primary challengers to Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. Idaho Realtors PAC reported spending another $6,050 for mailings on behalf of Anderst, Holtzclaw, Senate hopeful Todd Lakey and House hopeful Rick Youngblood. And Grass Roots Liberty Coalition of Post Falls reported spending $8,830 on ads, mailings and an event in support of Reps. Hart and Vito Barbieri, Sen. Steve Vick, and House hopefuls Ron Mendive and Jack Schroeder.

There were also a slew of last-minute campaign contribution 48-hour reports; among them: Free Enterprise PAC got $3,500 from Idaho Land PAC, and GunPAC got $5,000 from Lorna Finman of Rathdrum. All three PACs are run by Esposito. Candidates also filed a raft of 48-hour notices, from Sen. Patti Anne Lodge picking up another $5,000 from PACs and a local dairy to Rep. Bob Schaefer getting $1,000 from Rep. Bob Nonini's Idaho Association for Good Government PAC for his Senate run. Monsanto Corp. sent $1,000 to Rep. George Eskridge; Ridgeline Energy sent the same to Reps. Eric Anderson and Dell Raybould; and A.J. and Susie Balukoff donated $1,000 apiece to Senate hopeful Betty Richardson, while Susie Balukoff gave $1,000 to House hopeful Janie Ward Engelking.

Idaho's primary election is on Tuesday.

Apple joins crowded field for Spokane House seat

The field to replace state Rep. Andy Billig is getting larger.

Former City Councilman Bob Apple today became the fifth person to say he will run for the Third Legislative District House seat that Billig is leaving to run for state Senate.

Apple, 56, joins Democratic candidates City Councilman Jon Snyder; downtown businessman John Waite; and Marcus Riccell, senior policy analyst to state Sen. Lisa Brown; and Republican candidate Tim Benn, a child day care center owner.

Apple left the City Council at the end of last year after finishing his second term. He was term limited from running again. He ran for the same House position in 2010 and finished third among four candidates in the primary.

A former roofer, Apple said he currently isn't employed and will be able to campaign full-time.

Apple is more conservative than many in the party. He opposed former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner's sustainability plan, for instance. He said he likely will vote against same-sex marriage in November, though he'll accept whatever the voters decide on that issue.

GOP lawmakers decry funneling of attack money between interconnected PACs as ‘money laundering,’ call for reforms

The thousands of dollars funneling between a web of affiliated PACs to target certain Republican incumbents has prompted some lawmakers to call for campaign finance reforms, the Twin Falls Times-News reports today. Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin reports that Magic Valley lawmakers like Reps. Fred Wood, Maxine Bell, Jim Patrick and House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke are decrying the transfer of money from the House Victory Fund, traditionally used to help incumbent Republicans, to GunPAC, which is targeting their colleagues, including House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly.

"That’s not the only finance issue making some Republicans uncomfortable," Davlin writes. "GunPAC is one of four political action committees controlled by Lou Esposito, a Boise-based Republican consultant. According to campaign finance documents, thousands of dollars transferred between Esposito’s four PACs in the last month. Two of the PACs have the same treasurer, and three are located at 202 N. Ninth St. in Boise." There's nothing illegal about any of that, the Idaho Secretary of State's office told Davlin, but some lawmakers think there should be. “In some cases, it looks like money is being laundered,” Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told the Times-News. “It’s been shifted from one PAC to the next PAC to the next PAC. I think that should be illegal. It certainly is, in my opinion, unethical.” You can read Davlin's full report here.

Parker challeger, Wayne Spitzer, used to big challenges

Wayne Kyle Spitzer isn’t without ‘magical thinking.’

Just check out his 1990s film work on YouTube.

Spitzer, who has become a prominent voice in Occupy Spokane, recently announced on Facebook that he will challenge state House Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, in the August primary as a Democrat.

Parker has raised more than $140,000 for his reelection bid and has obtained a reputation as nearly unbeatable in only two terms serving his House district that includes much of Spokane. No one even bothered to challenge Parker in 2010.

“I don’t have any delusions about our chances, and yet I don’t think it’s impossible,” Spitzer said in an interview at Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s farewell party on Wednesday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. “It takes a leap of faith and just a little dose of magical thinking.”

Spitzer, 45, has had many jobs since he graduated from University High School in 1984, but he probably is best known as an independent filmmaker, who produced science fiction programming and short films, including the series “Dead of Night” which ran on a cable access channel in Spokane in the mid-1990s. And, yes, some of his work is thankfully available on YouTube. Here’s a Spokesman-Review story about “Dead of Night” from 1996.

Challengers outraise two incumbents, including Hart, in North Idaho’s District 2

In the hard-fought GOP primary races in North Idaho's legislative District 2, campaign finance reports show that challengers have out-raised two of the three incumbents, including tax-protesting Rep. Phil Hart. Hart has raised $6,738 for his campaign, while challenger Ed Morse has raised more than twice as much - $16,479 - and challenger Fritz Wiedenhoff has raised $7,748. That GOP primary also includes Ron Vieselmeyer, who trails with $3,791. Hart also reports a $31,827 outstanding debt to himself.

Meanwhile, GOP challenger Mark Fisher has outspent Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, a Hart ally, while former Sen. Mike Jorgenson has raised slightly less but spent more than Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, in their rematch race. Vick, a former Montana state representative, was recruited to run by Hart two years ago, and defeated Jorgensen, then a third-term incumbent.

The campaign finance reports filed this week are Idaho voters' only chance to see who's funding  the various campaigns before next Tuesday's primary election. Click here to read my full story at spokesman.com on the reports in contested races in districts 2, 3 and 4.

Avista ‘disappointed,’ S-R stands by story

Avista Corp. issued a statement today saying it was "disappointed" in my article in today's Spokesman-Review on how the utility is spending thousands to target two North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat in Tuesday's primary, suggesting the article was misleading because it lacked greater examination of the entire scope of the utility’s political activities, including its activities in the state of Washington. The statement makes no claim that the article was inaccurate; you can read the full statement here.

Meanwhile, S-R City Editor Addy Hatch sent out a tweet noting that a link to Avista's statement has been posted with the story, and adding, "As far as setting the record straight, we believe the story is factual and fair and we stand by it." And among the 25 comments (so far) on the online version of the story on the S-R website was this one, posted late this afternoon by commenter PerryE:

"I’m George Eskridge’s son, and a lobbyist myself. I agree with Avista that the article wasn’t quite clear enough on the fact that Avista warned my father several months ago, during Idaho’s legislative session, that if he didn’t vote Avista’s way that Avista would be sure that Rep. Eskridge wouldn’t be re-elected.

Growing up, during 'family summer trips' visiting the various Bonneville customers my father so diligently served, I watched my father advocate for cheaper power for utilities and their customers. Now he’s working very hard to ensure that the families in his legislative district have access to cheaper power to keep the lights and heat on as they also work to stay in their homes and put food on their tables.

Now, as Avista has been caught trying to make good on Colwell’s threats, at least Avista could have the decency to owe up to Avista’s political efforts. Their customers, and my dad’s constituents, deserve at least that much!"

Waite questions labor’s backing of Riccelli

Candidates haven’t even officially signed up to run for office, but the contest for a state House seat representing central Spokane is heating up.

The race for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, already has attracted four candidates, in large part because Billig decided last week that he wouldn’t run for reelection as planned so that he could run for the state Senate seat held by Lisa Brown, who announced last week that she would not run for a new term.

The AFL-CIO’s Washington State Labor Council endorsed on Saturday Democrat Marcus Riccelli, Brown’s senior policy analyst, for Billig’s 3rd Legislative District seat without seeking the positions of other candidates.

Democratic candidate John Waite, who owns Merlyn’s Comics and Games, said the labor endorsement indicates that “elite, upper party leaders” are working to control the outcome.

“That’s absolutely, positively not my vision for how our democratic elections process should work,” Waite said.

The other two candidates who have announced their intentions to run are Republican Tim Benn and Democrat Jon Snyder, a Spokane City councilman.

Riccelli, who attended the labor council’s weekend convention where union leaders selected candidates they support in the August primary, said he’s “extremely proud” of the support he earned from the labor council.