With 2018 around the corner and an open race for both Idaho governor and lieutenant governor, we now know more than we did about candidate finances, at least for the Republican candidates (we are still waiting for Democrats to field theirs).

The candidates recently filed campaign financial reports for the period from Jan. 1 of this year through June 30. Here’s a chart that summarizes the reports for the big three GOP gubernatorial candidates:

Republican Candidates for Governor




Cash on Hand

Tommy Ahlquist




Raul Labrador




Brad Little




A few observations. . . .  Ahlquist has attracted a cadre of folks willing to put their money on the table to back his effort.  He personally put in nearly $400,000 but raised over $500,000 from a wide array of people in both Idaho and Utah and few other places. He is spending significant money on television, direct mail and campaign infrastructure and his expenditures show a high burn rate.  Here’s the question:  Is his spending moving him up with the Idaho public and to what degree?  We’ll have a read in the next round of polling.

Labrador is showing that he can compete financially.  His colleagues in the U.S. House are stepping up to assist but he showing a pretty good network both in and out of Idaho. As has been noted, his fundraising is a bit overstated because a good portion (20% or so) is not for next May’s primary but for the November 2018 general election.  But, he has a healthy mid-pack cash on hand number. The questions are two-fold: 1) Can Labrador continue to compete financially with Ahlquist and Little?  2) How rapidly can he build out his campaign infrastructure?

The highlight of Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s report is his leading cash on hand number. Little is active online and I am expecting him to move into broader media in the next few months. His fundraising operation will need to kick into gear at a higher rate the last half of the year to allow him to compete with Ahlquist.

We also know more about the GOP candidates for lieutenant governor.  Here is a summary of their reports:

Republican Candidates for Lt. Governor




Cash on Hand

Marv Hagedorn




Janice McGeachin




Kelley Packer




Stephen Yates




Janice McGeachin and Steve Yates are the clear frontrunners on the financial front.  But, two-thirds of McGeachin’s money came from herself.  Can she continue that rate from her own pockets in the future or attract money from others?  Yates clearly has a broad network both in and out of Idaho, tied to his consulting business.

Of note, another possible name is surfacing for that office.  Melinda Smyser is currently a regional director for Sen. Jim Risch.  But, she is filling her Facebook page with appearances around the state, mostly in her role as program chair for the Idaho Federation of Republican Women. Word is that she will announce this fall. If she jumps in, what role will Risch play in the campaign? And, does she leave her position as a federal employee to seek state office?

Finally, a somewhat overlooked point. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is building a modest war chest for 2018. In the first half of this year, he raised $9,150.00 but has cash on hand of $33,783.11.  No Republican challengers have yet come forward to face him, but Wasden will have at least a modest head start.

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..