Bringing the Economy Home

High Cost Of Republican Caucus Means Thousands Less For State And Local Candidates

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Ada County Republicans arrived hours early to attend the March caucus.

The Ada County GOP has been stingy with contributions to local candidates in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election.  When asked how much the Ada County Republicans have been able to spend on races so far, treasurer Darrel McRoberts gives a dejected response.

“Not one penny this year,” he says.  “We haven’t been able to.  We had to pay it all to Taco Bell.” 

He’s referring to Boise State University’s Taco Bell Arena, where the Ada County GOP held its successful, first-ever Super Tuesday presidential caucus in March.

Reporting by the Associated Press’s John Miller revealed over the weekend that leaders of the Ada County party got a shock when the university delivered an unexpectedly high tab.

“After the party,” Miller writes, “came the hangover: A surprise $35,000 bill.”

Instead of supporting candidates, the Ada County Republican Central Committee has had to direct its dollars toward covering that cost.  In 2010, the committee distributed in excess of $18,000 to candidates, according to disclosure reports, so the effect on campaign contributions has been significant.

“There are several tight races, we think, and that’s where — if we are able to have some money — that’s where it will go,” treasurer McRoberts says.

McRoberts chooses not to say which races he regards as most competitive, but Republican Sen. Mitch Toryanski’s race against Branden Durst, a former Democratic representative, must surely be among them.  In Miller’s article, Toryanski says he’s felt the loss of that funding.

If Toryanski and other local Republican candidates hope the Idaho GOP might throw a little extra help their way, they’re not in luck.  Josh Whitworth, executive director of the Idaho GOP, says his organization has no plans to shift funds to help candidates who might otherwise have received greater support from the Ada County Republicans.

“We have to look beyond Ada County,” he says.  “We cover the whole state, and there are a lot of tight races, and we want to help where we can help. That’s really our mantra.”

Plus, Whitworth says, this has been a tight year for local and state GOP coffers.  “The money coming in has been directed to Romney, and the need to get that change this year,” he explains.  With so much of the fundraising focus on the national race, he says, there’s less money for races that fall further down on the ticket.

Once the election is past and the dust settles, Whitworth says, then it’s possible the Idaho GOP will lend a hand to the Ada County party.


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