Editor’s note: Today is Idaho’s primary election day and the last day to request an absentee ballot from the Secretary of State’s Office or your county elections office. Voters have until 8 p.m. June 2 to complete their ballot and return it to their county elections office.
BOISE — Just days before the primary election, Idaho Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Paulette Jordan has lost her interim campaign manager.
Holly Cook, who joined the campaign in February as press secretary, and then subsequently was promoted twice, first to communications manager and then on March 23 to interim director, cited three reasons for her departure, reviving memories of the turmoil and turnover among Jordan’s campaign staff during her 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
“I have some personal concern about the integrity of some of the people Ms. Jordan has chosen, from out of state, to work on her campaigns,” Cook said in a brief statement. “Without passing judgment, I do not want to be associated with even the appearance of dishonesty.”
She declined to elaborate. Cook also said payments for her services from the campaign fell behind schedule multiple times; and that she had differences with the candidate on “how to go about our working relationships with Idaho journalists, whom I hold in high regard.”
During Jordan’s run for governor, three of her top staffers resigned in September, a month and a half before the general election, telling reporters they couldn’t talk about it because of nondisclosure agreements. Former manager Michael Rosenow cited differences with Jordan in his resignation letter. Two staffers also left the gubernatorial campaign in May, just days before the 2018 primary election.
Cook declined to say Monday whether she signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Wayne Miller, the Senate campaign’s chief of staff and interim spokesman, said Cook is the only staffer who’s left, and it was a voluntary departure, not a firing. Cook left the campaign May 15.
Miller, a volunteer to whom Cook reported, said, in an email, “Prior to Holly’s work as interim campaign manager for the primary she had some difficulties with some of her colleagues, one of whom was from out of state. That individual has not been part of the campaign since Holly became primary campaign manager. So, I assume that her comments extend back to that time. Holly has never complained to me about the integrity of any individual and provided evidence of any kind that led me to follow up on any matter.”
He added, “I think Holly’s communications work for the campaign was very good. We all wish her well in her next endeavors.”
Cook has worked for several Republican campaigns in the past, and also worked with Nels Mitchell’s Democratic campaign for the Senate when he challenged GOP Sen. Jim Risch in 2014.
Jordan said in an earlier interview that she kept her campaign staff small in the primary campaign, amid the coronavirus pandemic; and that she plans to expand the staff, assuming she wins the primary election, for the November contest against incumbent Risch, who is unopposed in the GOP primary as he seeks reelection to a third six-year term.
According to Jordan’s campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission, in addition to Cook, she’s paid a small salary to a local volunteer coordinator; and paid for fundraising consulting from Washington, D.C., consultant Gayraud Townsend, who served as her chief of staff in her run for governor; various business services from firms in Sacramento and Novato, California, which she also used in her earlier campaign; digital manager services from Brittany Graziano of Baltimore; and web design services from a Coeur d’Alene firm, Range NW.
Jordan faces Jim Vandermaas of Eagle in the Democratic primary this spring, in Idaho’s first all-absentee-ballot, mail-in election. Voters are required to submit requests for absentee ballots by May 19; they’re due back by June 2, which is the date when results are set to be tallied after 8 p.m.