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Idaho Senate candidates raise nearly $900k ahead of May 17 primary election

Idaho Senate In Session
Otto Kitsinger
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The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Ten House members jockeying for Senate seats around the Gem State

Editor’s note: The Idaho Capital Sun will publish the fundraising totals for Idaho House of Representatives candidates on Wednesday, April 6.

Now that the dust has settled on redistricting and official declarations for office, fundraising is picking up for Idaho Senate candidates — and quite a few of those candidates just finished their last session in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Idaho has 35 legislative districts, with two state representatives and one senator for each district. Candidates are required to file a monthly report with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office by the 10th of each month, which includes all donations of any amount, in-kind contributions and loans, as well as expenditures and other financial activity from the previous month. The individual maximum contribution for a single election in legislative races is $1,000.

Overall, candidates have raised close to $896,000 so far, with about a month left before the primary election. Several Senate candidates have a large amount of cash on hand, including Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, who has more than $103,000. Scott Herndon, who is challenging Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle, for his seat has close to $63,000 in cash on hand.

Of the nine Democrats seeking Senate seats, two have larger sums of cash on hand, including Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, who has about $43,000 in cash and no primary opponent.

Idaho’s primary election will take place May 17, and the general election will be held Nov. 8.

The Idaho Capital Sun has compiled the donations for legislative candidates into a visualization of the fundraising totals, expenditures and cash on hand for each candidate who has raised at least $500 since Jan. 1, 2021.

These tables will be updated on a regular basis throughout the 2022 election cycle.

Idaho representatives hope to gain foothold in the Senate

Ten Idaho representatives are vying for Senate seats in the 2022 primary, and one is running unopposed — Rep. Doug Okuniewicz, R-Hayden.

Several House members have said they are running for Senate seats because too many bills passed by the House have stalled in the Senate, including Rep. Codi Galloway, R-Boise, who is challenging Martin, R-Boise. Martin is seeking his sixth term as a senator and is the chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

“In my short time in Idaho government, I’ve learned there’s a problem — and the problem is not in the House,” Galloway, who was elected to the House in 2020, said in one of her campaign announcements. She listed bills the House passed in the 2021 session related to prohibiting vaccine mandates and parental rights in education.

“The problem is, you’ve probably never heard of these bills. That’s because after the House passed the bills, they went over to the Senate, where they were quietly killed by some senators who are not as conservative as we had hoped.”

In a candidate survey from the Idaho Republican Party, Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, gave largely the same explanation.

“We say in the House that the Senate is where good bills go to die,” Nichols wrote. “The Senate is in desperate need of help, the only way to make the changes needed is to get people in who understand what needs to change, and who won’t allow the government to cast aside your God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Other representatives have different reasons for seeking Senate seats, including redistricting changes. Rep. Laurie Lickley, R-Jerome, served two terms representing District 25, which used to include Jerome County and part of Twin Falls County. The new map includes Blaine County, which was represented by Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, for 12 years. Stennett is not running for re-election.

In an interview with the Times-News in January, Lickley said it’s time for her to work with a different demographic.

“My background in resources positions me very well to represent my new constituents in the Blaine County area after this next election cycle,” she said.