Bringing the Economy Home

Making The Money Count In Idaho’s Congressional Races

Courtesy of the candidates| U.S. Congress

Idaho's Congressional candidates, top left Jimmy Farris, Raul Labrador, Nicole LeFavour, Mike Simpson

A record amount of money is flowing into this year’s election in states across the country. Idaho, it seems, is not one of them.

Idaho doesn’t have a high-stakes gubernatorial race on the ballot, or a critical senate seat up for grabs.  But both of Idaho’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot.

Idaho’s 1st Congressional District covers the western half of the state, from the southern edge to the top of the panhandle.

There, incumbent Republican Raul Labrador has far out-raised his challenger, former NFL football player Jimmy Farris, a Democrat.

The latest campaign finance reports filed with the federal election commission show Labrador has brought in $797,686 this election cycle, compared to Farris’ $69,993

What they each have left to spend is equally as disparate; Labrador has $290,984 left in his campaign bank account while Farris has $9,888.

David Adler directs Boise State’s Andrus Center for Public Policy.  He says not only is Farris facing the uphill climb of running against an incumbent, but he hasn’t been able to raise the money needed to gain name recognition across western Idaho.

“And that’s unfortunate because when one candidate can so greatly outspend the other, it means the playing field is not level,” says Adler.  “And that really deprives voters of their opportunity to size up the two candidates on all the issues.” 

In Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District, that’s Boise and the entire eastern half of the state, seven-time incumbent Republican Mike Simpson has raised more than $1.1 million.  He’s also given away at least $70,000 of that to other Republicans.  His challenger, two-term state legislator Nicole LeFavour has raised $285,275.

The gap is wide.  But, what they have left to spend on pricey TV and radio ads is far closer.  Simpson has $220,062 on hand, compared to LeFavour’s $148,552.

Adler says that suggests a couple of things. 

“First, Sen. LeFavour has done a very good job of raising money. It shows there’s considerable enthusiasm, financial backing for her candidacy, she’s taken seriously by Democrats and some Independents who are very much attracted to her positions on issues,” Adler says.  “On the other hand, it’s also true that Congressman Simpson could raise a lot more money if he needs to.” 

With 18 days left in the campaign, it’s likely both candidates will make their final push for votes and financial backing to get their message out.


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