Update: Some of the Idaho candidate’s specified the range of their fundraising as the entire year of 2017 while others indicated it was for the second half.

The correct full year contribution numbers for the candidates where there were issues are:

Tommy Ahlquist - $1,729,478.45
Brad Little - $743,560.19
Marv Hagedorn - $40,254.58
Janice McGeachin - $92,947.34
Kelly Packer - $38,513.04

Stephen Yates - $245,439.54


With the May 15 primary election less than three months away, Idaho is getting close to narrowing down who will be the next governor and lieutenant governor, along with a host of other offices.

A winning candidate needs to have a winning message targeted to the right voters and must have the resources to spread that message.  I believe strongly that a candidate with the right message and the right target audience can beat a better-funded candidate with a weak message and inadequate targeting.

But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the resources to compete. Over the past few weeks the various candidates have filed their campaign financial reports for all of 2017.  Here are some of the things that jumped out to me:

Below is a chart I put together summarizing the financial status, based on their recently filed financial report, for the three main GOP candidates for governor:

Republican Candidates for Governor

Reports for All of 2017


Funds Raised

Cash on Hand

Tommy Ahlquist



Raul Labrador



Brad Little



Source: Reports filed with Idaho Secretary of State

This shows both funds raised and cash remaining, which is critical at this stage because it shows what they will be able to spend on the all important forthcoming media and voter contact.  The numbers do hide some key relevant facts. 

First, Ahlquist is self-funding a significant part of his campaign but he is still raising substantial dollars.  He is also spending considerable sums. His relatively low cash on hand is not reflective of his future capacity, as he could replenish his war chest.

Second, Labrador is struggling to stay in the money game. Both his opponents are considerably outraising him. And, much of Labrador’s funds remaining are for the general election, not the primary (my best estimate is about a third of his cash on hand is for the general). He is in a position to be massively out-spent by both of his opponents, possibly two or three to one in the primary.

Third, Little is hoarding his nest egg and presumably will begin to deploy in a significant way soon.

Here is the equivalent chart for the two major Democratic candidates for governor:

Democratic Candidates for Governor

Reports for All of 2017


Funds Raised

Cash on Hand

A.J. Balukoff



Paulette Jordan



Source: Reports filed with Idaho Secretary of State

Both are starting late.  Balukoff, based on his 2014 effort, likely has the ability to pour in significant personal funds.  But, Jordan is the one to watch on the money front.  She is attracting a bit of national attention as a woman and a Native American.  She has even drawn the attention of singer Cher.  Can she turn that attention to her financial advantage and have the resources to compete successfully in the May primary?

Another race of interest is the Republican contest for Brad Little’s position as lieutenant governor.  Here is the chart for the major contestants:

Republican Candidates for Lt. Governor

Reports for All of 2017


Funds Raised

Cash on Hand

Marv Hagedorn



Janice McGeachin



Bob Nonini



Kelley Packer



Stephen Yates



Source: Reports filed with Idaho Secretary of State

It is a three-way race --- if one only looks at money --- between Janice McGeachin, Bob Nonini and Stephen Yates. Yates is clearly the powerhouse on the financial front and is leading the pack significantly by that measure.  Nonini seems to have some capacity to be competitive.  McGeachin fell back in 2017 but still has a relatively healthy piggy bank from cash she had before the beginning of last year.

I want to re-emphasize that money is not everything.  I think Labrador, in particular, has been able to attract supporters because of a defined message, despite trailing in the financial department.  His challenge, and that of other similarly situated candidates, is whether they will have enough to get their people to the polls on May 15.

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..