- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A new political committee is raising thousands of dollars from the state’s handful of wealthy left-leaning groups to help support Democrats in Idaho’s toughest legislative races.

According to the group’s recently released first campaign fundraising report, Responsible Leadership for Idaho has raised more than $158,000 since it formed five months ago - a rare feat for the minority party in Republican-dominant Idaho. It has spent nearly $83,000 during the same timeframe.

The group’s largest donation came from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which gave $70,000 in July.

The contribution is the largest donation the committee - separate from the state’s Democratic Party, but founded by Democratic lawmakers - has made in nearly a decade, based on campaign reports provided by Secretary of State.

Political Action Committee for Education, the fundraising arm of the state’s largest teacher union, gave $32,000 and a Planned Parenthood PAC donated $9,500. Conservation Voters for Action Fund, which has a history of supporting bipartisan candidates in the past, gave $6,600.

Responsible Leadership for Idaho’s founder and treasurer Jeremy Maxand did not return repeated requests for comment. Idaho Democratic Party spokesman Dean Ferguson said the party is not connected to the group and said he could not comment on the group’s spending.

The group’s fundraising has focused primarily spending on 10 individual legislative races.

This includes providing support up north in District 6, where House Minority Leader John Rusche faces competitive GOP challenger Mike Kingsley.

The state’s Republican Party set up a field office in that region earlier this year - hoping to oust the six-term lawmaker and secure a House seat win for Republican candidate Thyra Stevenson, who is running against new Democratic candidate Bob Blakey.

The group is also backing Democratic candidates in District 5.

In the southern part of the state, the group is also spending money in Districts 15, where Democrats hope to edge out five-term Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, and two-term Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise.

In District 26, the group is also sending mailers and other campaign resources to protect Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett and to help first-time candidate Sally Toone win the race against her GOP opponent Alex Sutter.

The campaign report also showed the group spending $20,000 on political and media consultants based in Washington D.C.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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