One of the strange voyeuristic pleasures of election season comes from reading campaign finance reports.
Lets hit some highlights and some oddities in the local legislative races, by the numbers:
$87,443.72. Do you think West Boises District 15 is a battleground or what? This is the eye-popping total Democrat Betty Richardson had 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 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 Boises 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. Ellsworths $11,265 pales next to Ward-Engelkings $58,359.25.
All of this underscores something we already knew: District 18, like 15, is a legislative battleground.
18. So, lets 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 its 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, Brad Bolicek, Tom Dayley, Graham Paterson and Ellsworth, all of Boise; Robert Anderst and Rick Youngblood of Nampa; Jason Monks and the unopposed James Holtzclaw of Meridian; and Brandon Hixon of Caldwell.
Donna Jones three-decade career in public service ended abruptly Monday, as the state controller retired midterm, after suffering a broken neck in a May 25 rollover accident.
Facing a two-year recovery, the 73-year-old Jones made the right call. She stepped aside from her $93,756-a-year job; her former chief of staff, Brandon Woolf, will continue on as controller for the remaining two years of her term.
Said Jones: I cannot in good conscience deliver anything less than a full measure to those who have trusted me all these years. I have chosen to retire and ensure the people are represented by someone who can give them all of his attention and energy.
And Godspeed on your recovery.
The controller is, by job description, the states bean counter, bill payer and financial record-keeper. In her final act as a public official, Jones went out with grace, putting the taxpayers interests first.
A NOTE ABOUT LETTERS
On todays Opinion page, you will see a group of letters on Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the Students Come First education laws.
All are opposed.
So its a good time to review the letters policy, especially for election season.
Its simple. What you see is what we get. It reflects the letters coming in our door and just like 2011, when the Legislature debated these bills, letters are running strongly against the plan.
We run as many letters as we can in print, and run as many letters as possible online. But well do our best to run a representative sampling in print (in other words, if letters run 2-to-1 on a given election, we try to reflect that in print).
If theres a point of view youd like to add to the conversation, do it ASAP. The election letters deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29; late letters will be processed as time and space allows.
Kevin Richert: 377-6437, Twitter: @KevinRichert