Last-minute Electioneering 

Campaign finance and polls, oh my

In the last week before an election--even a mere primary election--the money starts flowing to candidates, giving some indication of who will survive. In this case, Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter saw a late influx of thousands of dollars from political action committees, according to the Idaho Secretary of State's online database.

Otter got his $2,500 from Altria, nee Phillip Morris, on the same day he received a $2,000 personal contribution from Altria lobbyist Skip Smyser. He got his $1,500 from the Regence Group insurance interests and $9,000 from the loggers, contractors and the Idaho (Power) PAC. Pre-primary reports were due as BW went to press, but the early filings are an indication of high dollar contributions. Based on the 48-hour notices filed, Otter's primary opponents barely managed to scrape together gas money.

Otter's presumptive Democratic opponent, Keith Allred, who has already drawn fire from an oppositional website funded by Idaho industrialists--allredink.com--reported $6,000 in large contributions prior to his full filing.

The Allred camp was also touting poll results in the last week, citing a Rasmussen Reports poll that had Otter up 54-32, but Allred closing the gap by 10 points since the last query.

Otter Republican primary opponent Rex Rammell was also touting his optimistic reading of poll numbers recently, releasing a Greg Smith and Associates poll that showed him with 24 points to Otter's 48, with 28 percent uncommitted in the race.

And though it's not likely to affect the primary, the Idaho Education Association released a poll showing wide opposition to budget cuts in public schools, to the tune of 81 percent. Eight in 10 likely voters said they opposed the $130 million cuts to education that the Legislature approved and Otter signed last session, and a majority of respondents favored adding a penny sales tax or funding more tax auditors to collect money for schools.

Warning: All of these polls have margins of error, i.e., could be wrong.

In the First Congressional District race, Vaughn Ward--who replaced much of his campaign staff in recent weeks after a series of missteps--led Raul Labrador in the money race, with nearly $600,000 to Labrador's $200,000. But Labrador sealed the Tea Party Boise endorsement, the group's first-ever political endorsement (see Citizen, Page 10). Still, Democrat Rep. Walt Minnick--who has no primary this month--spent more than the two of them combined and still has $1 million in the bank.

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