One of the strange voyeuristic pleasures of election season comes from reading campaign finance reports.
Let’s hit some highlights and some oddities in the local legislative races, by the numbers:
• $87,443.72: Do you think West Boise’s District 15 is a battleground, or what? This is the eye-popping total Democrat Betty Richardson has raised for her Senate race, through Sept. 30.
No surprise that the former county party chairwoman has support from some Democratic warhorses, including former Gov. Cecil Andrus and former U.S. Reps. Richard Stallings and Larry LaRocco.
The surprise is the fundraising margin in this race. Normally, the $61,957.34 raised by Republican Fred Martin would border on overkill. Not this time.
• Seven: Think Republicans want to keep the battleground District 15 Senate seat? Martin has contributions from seven Senate Republicans, including all four members of the leadership team.
• Two: Incumbents almost always have an edge in fundraising. Almost. So the exceptions to that rule are telling.
There are 32 contested legislative races in Ada and Canyon counties, 18 involving sitting lawmakers. Only two of these lawmakers have been outraised through Sept. 30.
Both are Republican incumbents facing rematches in Southeast Boise’s unpredictable District 18. Incumbent Sen. Mitch Toryanski has raised $26,449 to the $29,859.69 raised by Democrat Branden Durst, the former House member Toryanski narrowly defeated in 2010. Two years after returning to the House, defeating Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking by a scant seven-vote margin, Rep. Julie Ellsworth is getting hammered in the money race. Ellsworth’s $11,265 pales next to Ward-Engelking’s $58,359.25.
All of this underscores something we already knew: District 18, like 15, is a legislative battleground.
• 18: So, let’s go back to those 32 contested legislative races. Republicans hold the money edge in 18, Democrats in 14. And aside from the swing districts, 15 and 18, the money goes exactly where you would predict: Heavy for the Republicans in Canyon County and the West Ada suburbs, heavy for the Democrats in Boise.
Does the money follow a winner or does the money make a winner? Probably it’s a little of both.
• 10: The worst-kept secret in Statehouse circles is the fact that House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley aspires to be speaker, even if it means a challenge to incumbent Lawerence Denney. With no opponent in the Nov. 6 election, Bedke is kicking thousands of dollars into the coffers of House GOP candidates — the very folks who will elect a speaker.
The Bedke bunch includes 10 local candidates: Lynn Luker, Julie Ellsworth, Brad Bolicek, Tom Dayley and Graham Paterson, Boise; Robert Anderst and Rick Youngblood of Nampa; Jason Monks and the unopposed James Holtzclaw of Meridian; and Brandon Hixon of Caldwell.