A financial post mortem and look ahead

Notable numbers in the FEC reports just filed by Idaho congressional candidates – those competing in the May primary and still still headed to November.

Here’s the number that most aggressively jumps out: $552,612. That’s the amount Bill Sali, winner of the Republican nomination for the 1st congressional district, raised so far in this cycle. That’s an almost astonishing amount for a primary contest, which almost all of it was raised for. And Sali didn’t just sit on it: He spent $464,124, leaving him with (as of the end of last month) a modest $91,790 on hand. Our guess: He was told, “Spend it on the primary, that’s likely your real battle” – with the promise that more will be coming for the general if needed.

The only one of his competitors to spend in that same ballpark was Sheila Sorensen, who raised and spent just shy of $400,000. But more than half of what she raised – $210,500 – was in the form of a loan from the candidate. She raised well less than half what Sali did, and less than Canyon C0unty Commissioner Robert Vasquez, who raised $302,975 (and apparently put in not a dime of his own).

On the Democratic side, nominee Larry Grant raised a respectable $216,515, had spent about two-thirds of it by the end of last month, and has $73,982 left over. In theory, that puts Grant and Sali on a similar playing field as they begin the general. In practice, Sali can return to some awfully deep pockets for another round, and he probably will. And Grant has more grueling fundraising ahead.

Over the second district, things are a little more modest, as Republican Representative Mike Simpson has spent only $229,569 (smallish for an incumbent), and his Democratic challenger Jim Hansen $50,658.

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