County and legislative candidates raise $60,821
Blaine ranks 12th for national donations
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Candidates for a contested District 25 legislative seat have out-fundraised candidates for Blaine County sheriff, but just barely.
The incumbent, Rep. Tim Ridinger, R-Shoshone, and his challenger, Donna Pence, D-Gooding, have collectively raised $33,401. Incumbent Sheriff Walt Femling, a Republican, and challenger Jeff Gunter, a Democrat, have collec-tively raised $27,420.
The top fundraiser out of the four contested local candidates is Ridinger, who raised $17,825 by Oct. 17, the most recent campaign finance disclosure deadline. Pence raised $15,576. Femling raised $14,420. Gunter raised $13,000.
By the Oct. 17 deadline, Femling had spent $14,150, the most among the four contested candidates. Pence spent $12,182. Ridinger spent $5,043. Gunter spent $3,978.
Though the money in the local races pales in comparison to the national stage, the healthy local campaigns under-score Blaine County?s position this election season as No. 12 among counties nationwide for per capita gifts to federal politics. Residents here averaged $22.80 each in federal campaign gifts.
Teton County, Wyo., home to Jackson Hole, gets top honors. There, residents averaged $72.92 each in federal gifts. Pitkin County, Colo., where Aspen is the county seat, ranked No. 2 with residents averaging $55.98 each.
In an interesting development, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has raised almost as much money from Idaho supporters as Republican President George W. Bush.
The latest Federal Election Commission statistics show that Kerry has raised $356,261 to Bush?s $362,310 from Idaho individuals, political action committees or companies giving $200 or more.
About a quarter of the donations to Kerry?s campaign have come from individual donors. More than $200,000 of Kerry?s Idaho donations have come from Blaine County residents. Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have a home here.
In 2000, Bush raised more than four times as much money in Idaho as Democrat Al gore.
This year, Kerry?s Idaho supporters are raising money in record numbers?815 percent more than the state Demo-crats raised for Gore four years ago. The total of Bush?s Idaho donations for 2004 thus far is 122 percent more than he raised here in 2000.