Across the Aisle

By Seth Ogilvie

Lieutenant governor candidate Rep. Kelley Packer received a financial endorsement from House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel.

“We don’t always agree,” Rubel told Idaho Reports, “but I respect her.”


A who’s who of Republican lawmakers surround the $100 donation from Rubel on Packer’s most recent financial disclosure. Reps. Caroline Nilsson-Troy, Rick Youngblood, Eric Redman, Dell Raybould, Maxine Bell, Neil Anderson, Mike Kingsley, and Steve Miller joined Rubel on the contribution list.

Republicans giving money to Republicans, however, is no surprise. But a Democratic House leader?

Rubel said she was interested in helping out what she thought was the best Republican for the job. “There are only a few people on that side of the aisle that I wouldn’t mind in office,” said Rubel, “and she is one of them.

The contribution came to light as Democrats have been picking sides in their own legislative and statewide primaries. Notably, Rubel has not endorsed either A.J. Balukoff or Paulette Jordan, choosing to stay neutral in a contentious gubernatorial primary battle. (Rubel is one of the few lawmakers who hasn’t endorsed. Twelve of the 17 Democratic lawmakers have endorsed Balukoff.)

Rubel’s bipartisan work has stood out in the House. She worked with Rep. Christy Perry on mandatory minimum legislation and Rep. Steven Harris on civil asset forfeiture reform.

In the last days of the 2018 legislative session, Rubel stood up to debate in support of Perry and Packer’s attempts to resurrect Gov. Butch Otter’s dual waiver health care proposal.

“I hold (Packer) in high esteem,” said Rubel. “She has displayed courage and civility in a place that doesn’t always have either.”

Rubel said she has not donated to any other Republicans this year.

Packer has managed to raise $25,586.29 this election cycle, the vast majority coming from her fellow Republicans. As of Thursday morning, hers was the only campaign finance form uploaded in the lieutenant governor race, except for former candidate Rebecca Arnold, who dropped out earlier this spring and raised no money.

Rubel told Idaho Reports that those partisan lines would be redrawn this fall. “I will support the Democratic candidate in the general election,” she said.

But for now, she’s happy to support her colleague across the aisle. “On the Republican side, she would bring the most credentials to the office,” Rubel said.



Corrected May 3rd at 2:22 PM: A previous version of this story said Rep. Steven Miller cosponsored civil asset forfeiture reform.


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