Otter’s tepid fundraising will feed talk he won’t run in 2014

Gov. Butch Otter’s new Sunshine report shows fundraising and spending lagging behind his pace four years ago, when he was running for a second term.

The differences are more than negligible and will fuel low-grade speculation that Otter may not seek four more years in the May 2014 primary, when he will be 72 years old.

Netting out Otter’s June 30 forgiveness of a $131,000 loan he made his campaign, he raised $84,369 in the first six months of 2013.  At the comparable benchmark in 2009 — the mid-year report due July 31 — Otter had raised $102,650, making his 2013 figure a 22 percent decline.

His 2013 spending, again deducting the $131,000 loan forgiveness, was $32,088. In the first six months of 2009, Otter spent $90,305. His 2013 spending is down 64 percent from four years ago.

Otter’s cash on hand, however, is up slightly, from $117,874 in 2009 to $129,209 in 2013. And there’s plenty of time for him to pick up the pace, with the bulk of money grubbing coming in the later stages of the campaign. Otter spent $1.95 million in winning his first term in 2006. In 2010, he spent $1.84 million.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column arguing that GOP Congressman Raul Labrador’s campaign finance report made it clear Labrador will not challenge Otter, despite urgings from the party’s tea party wing.

But Otter’s modest finance report renews questions about his plans. Otter has repeatedly insisted that he’s running, but he’s made no formal announcement.

Doubters hold that Otter will stall long enough to force Labrador’s hand and then step aside for Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who is considerably more popular in the GOP’s establishment wing than Labrador.

Labrador is already stalling, which may signal he’s not convinced by Otter’s assurances. Having said in January that he would announce his plans by mid-year, he said last month that his decision will come “in the next couple of months.”

Labrador’s next congressional finance report is due Oct. 15. Otter has until Jan. 31, 2014, to file his disclosures for the final six months of 2013.




Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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