Fundraising For Now and For Later 

It is still a week or two shy of the Nov. 3 election, but some of you have already voted for your Boise City Council candidate of choice. Deputy City Clerk Wendy Burrows-Johnson tells citydesk that her office had received about 700 to 800 absentee ballot requests as of Oct. 19, and that early voting began at the Ada County Elections Office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane.

Ada County is running the city election at its shiny new ballot counting HQ near the mall.

Early voting runs daily through Monday, Nov. 2, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the office will remain open until 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 for last-minute early voters. Candidates Lucas Baumbach and Dan Dunham announced they were going to vote early on the first possible day and encouraged senior citizens to do the same.

Burrows-Johnson said absentee requests are still coming in and the city is sending ballot request forms soon to voters in newly consolidated precincts along with information on their new polling places.

Baumbach raised concerns a month ago about the consolidation of precincts in West Boise, alleging political motivations. We are wondering about sending pre-emptive ballot requests to some 3,000 Boise voters and not to the rest of the city.

People are voting way early these days. We're not opposed to early voting, but it makes it much tougher to plan election coverage. That's part of the reason we launched, to provide an ongoing forum throughout the voting season.

But there are still plenty of chances to get educated about the candidates, if you have not yet voted, or even if you have.

Check out BW's Picks to find out about upcoming candidate forums, debates, town halls and hoedowns.

Well, if any candidate is throwing a hoedown, or a wine and cheese, it's bound to be TJ Thomson, who brought in more than $40,000 as of the Oct. 15 campaign finance reporting deadline, some $24,000 of which he had spent. Thomson submitted an eight-page spreadsheet of itemized contributions. That fundraising stands in stark contrast to that of David Webb, a Boise Sate political science student whose financial report was filled with zeroes.

Thomson's opponent, David Litster--who announced the backing of the well-financed Ada County Association of Realtors after the filing date--only reported $1,850 to his campaign, the bulk of which came from four supporters. Perhaps he will have more cash to report by the Oct. 27 reporting date, a week out from the election.

The two incumbents had raised some decent cash, including money from some of their colleagues on the City Council who do not have elections this year. Vern Bisterfeldt reported $8,775, including a grand from his friend at the Golden Star Restaurant. Maryann Jordan had $3,024, including money from Hidden Springs and Harris Ranch developers.

Baumbach raised a respectable $3,148, some of which he put toward a $50 blue tie and new black suit for campaigning. Dan Dunham clocked in at $2,262, and perennial candidate David Honey printed $62.54 worth of campaign lit.

Leland Ley, who has dropped out of the race, spent $90 of his campaign funds on fliers and $35 at the Maverick on Ustick and Cole.

But all that--even Thomson's 40 G--is chump change compared to fundraising in Idaho's Congressional race, which, we might remind you, is a year away.

Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick has raised more than $1 million for his presumed re-election bid in 2010.

Raising $286,727.55 in the last three months, Minnick is eclipsing the two Republican contenders for his freshman seat.

"I am pleased and humbled by the support Idahoans are showing for my independent, fiscally responsible voting record," Minnick said in a press release. "I'm just doing my best to keep my promises to them, and to represent their values and beliefs as I work in Congress."

Republican candidate for the First District seat Vaughn Ward reported raising $245,875 and apparent GOP primary opponent Ken Roberts took in $60,020, though his report to the Federal Election Commission does not appear to be complete; no data for individual contributions appears in the database.

To help explain some of Minnick's fundraising, we happened upon Sunlight Foundation's, a database of invitations to semi-secretive political fundraisers in which a couple of members of Congress host a breakfast or lunch or dinner for a colleague, a certain lobbyist or political interest concocts the guest list charging $500 or $1,000 or $3,500 a head, and nobody ever really knows who got hobnobbed. Until now. Check it out.

While not a complete database, the Web site has 14 parties on file for Minnick, including fetes with snowmobilers and many with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Rep. Mike Simpson, however, appears to party more than Minnick, with 28 party invites on file. He appears to have fortnightly fundraisers at the "refined and elegant" Capitol Hill Club, a Republican gentleman's club two blocks from Capitol Hill. Sen. Mike Crapo has 23 invites posted, including a $7,500-a-head golf outing. Poor Sen. Jim Risch has only two parties to his name so far, and one of them, unfortunately, was a Sun Valley Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed at Dollar Mountain.

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