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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: McAlister outraises Scott in N. Idaho race

The latest campaign finance reports from the race between Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Democratic challenger Kate McAlister, of Sandpoint, show McAlister outraising the outspoken first-term incumbent.

McAlister, president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, raised $16,831 in the most recent reporting period, and $26,211 year-to-date. Scott raised $14,827 in the most recent period and $18,650 year-to-date.

McAlister’s contributors were mostly individuals in the district, plus Idaho PACs representing the Associated General Contractors, the Idaho Cable Telecommunications Association and the Locomotive Engineers. Her largest contributions were $1,000 from Holt and Connie Taylor, of Sandpoint, and $800 from the Committee to Elect George Eskridge, a moderate Republican who long held the district’s other House seat before losing in the 2014 GOP primary to Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, a Scott ally.

Scott’s contributions were mostly from individuals in Idaho, both inside and outside the district, including a smattering from Pocatello residents. Among those was a $100 contribution from Doyle Beck, identified as being from Pocatello, though Beck lives in Idaho Falls.

Scott’s largest contributions were $1,000 each from Winning for Idaho, a PAC that represents the Greyhound Park Event Center in Post Falls; the Bonner County Republican Central Committee; and Agra-PAC of Pocatello, the Idaho Farm Bureau’s PAC, which Idaho Secretary of State records show is based in Boise; and $999.99 from Carl Simonsen, of Blanchard. Scott also received a $500 contribution from the Idaho House Republican Caucus.

McAlister spent $12,537 in the most recent reporting period, mostly for advertising. Scott spent $8,102, mostly for literature and auto and travel expenses, but also for some advertising, including $50 for advertising on Redoubt News.

At the close of the reporting period, McAlister reported $12,324 in cash on hand; Scott reported a $16,457 cash balance with $1,011 in credit card debt.

Court hopefuls vary in fundraising

The two candidates for an open Idaho Supreme Court seat have raised roughly equal amounts for their campaigns since their four-way primary race, but most of candidate Curt McKenzie’s funds came from his own pocket, while Robyn Brody drew contributions from an array of individuals and law firms. Brody also had three times as much carried over from the previous reporting period, at $31,321, compared to McKenzie’s $10,707. She collected twice as much as McKenzie in itemized cash contributions during the reporting period.

Of McKenzie’s $43,475 in campaign funds raised since June, $27,753 came in the form of loans from McKenzie to the campaign. Just $14,901 consisted of itemized cash contributions, which largely came from GOP state legislators and lobbyists. His largest donations were $1,000 each from six current GOP lawmakers, Idaho Power Co., and two PACs, the Agriculture-Natural Resources Industry PAC operated by the Food Producers of Idaho, and the IBWDA-PAC operated by the Idaho Beer & Wine Distributors.

Brody raised $47,000 for her campaign during the same period, including $10,640 in loans from her law office, Brody Law Office in Rupert. She had $34,900 in itemized cash contributions, all either from individuals or law firms. Her largest contributions were $5,000 each from Hepworth, Janis & Kluksdal in Boise, and Carol Bowman, of American Falls; and $3,500 each from John and Bonnie Lezamiz. John Lezamiz was Brody’s law partner in the Twin Falls law firm, where she worked before opening her own practice in Rupert.

Both candidates raised and spent more in the primary campaign, in which they bested two other hopefuls to make the November runoff, than they have since then.

At the close of the current reporting period on Sept. 30, McKenzie had $6,651 in cash on hand and $40,913 in debt. Brody had $49,247 in cash on hand and $10,640 in debt.

AdWatch: Labrador launches first TV ad since 2010

GOP congressman Raul Labrador, who did no TV advertising in his 2012 or 2014 campaigns, has launched a new TV campaign commercial that’s running across the 1st Congressional District, including in the Boise and Lewiston broadcast markets as well as on DirectTV and DISH in North Idaho, though not in the pricey Spokane broadcast TV market that covers North Idaho.

The ad introduces Labrador and tells the story of how he was raised by a single mother who helped him succeed and urged him toward public service. Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus, said, “I think it’s an effective, feel-good ad that includes a little bit of optimism, which we haven’t seen much in this general campaign.”

Asked why Labrador didn’t take to the airwaves in his past two campaigns but is doing so now, campaign senior adviser China Gum said, “It’s very expensive.” This time, she said, “He had saved up enough money to do it.” She said this ad will be followed by a second.

Aside from telling Labrador’s personal story, the ad really makes just one claim, when it says, “We have a government that continues to make it more difficult for individuals to achieve their dreams.” Gum said, “There’s a litany of reasons why he believes the government makes it hard for people to achieve the American dream.” Asked for examples, she pointed to “government overreach in regulations, the EPA.”

Weatherby said, “It’s more of an ideological statement, not necessarily factual. Typically, conservatives will agree, liberals won’t.”

Labrador faces Democrat James Piotrowski, a Boise attorney, in his bid for re-election to a fourth House term.

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