Money sweepstakes finds Hatch, Matheson out in front
Campaigns • Finance reports for last three months of 2011 show congressional candidates from Utah have collected a few million dollars.
Published: February 1, 2012 10:44AM
Updated: February 1, 2012 12:55PM
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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Washington • A few million dollars flowed into the accounts of congressional candidates from Utah at the end of 2011, according to the latest disclosure reports filed Tuesday. And that was before the Senate and House races even heat up.

With Sen. Orrin Hatch facing a challenge from within his party, Rep. Jim Matheson switching districts and a wide open race in the 2nd Congressional District, expect 2012 to be an expensive political year.

Here is a rundown of the campaign finance reports covering the past three months of 2011:

House District 4 • Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, has decided to run in the new district, facing four GOP challengers in what is expected to be a closely fought general election. And if it is close, it is likely to draw some big money to the race, though reported fundraising so far has been modest.

Matheson announced that he raised $233,000 from the start of October until the end of December.

His haul included at least $12,000 from national Democratic groups who want to see him hold on to a seat in Republican-dominated Utah. Matheson now has $696,000 in the bank, making him the best-financed House candidate in the state.

Three of his GOP challengers have been in the race long enough to be required to file campaign finance reports.

Carl Wimmer, a former state lawmaker, raised about $45,000 in the last three months of 2011, a drop off from the $150,000 he reported in the 3rd quarter shortly after entering the race.

His fundraising haul includes about $3,000 sent through the Club for Growth PAC, which has endorsed his run. Sen. Mike Lee’s Constitutional Conservatives Fund also donated $2,500 to Wimmer’s campaign. He has about $108,000 in available funds.

State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, owner of an architecture firm, loaned his campaign nearly $96,000 and raised just $3,600. He ended the year with about $105,000 in his account.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love raised just over $38,000 for her congressional bid and spent about $3,100, leaving her with just under $35,000 in her campaign kitty, according to her finance report filed late Tuesday.

Former congressional staffer Jay Cobb, who is also running for the Republican nomination, but did not file a report.

Senate • Sen. Orrin Hatch continued to raise and spend money at a blistering pace. In the last three months of 2011, he collected $1.37 million from contributors and spent $1.03 million on his extensive re-election campaign, which includes more than two-dozen employees. He had $4.44 million left in the bank at year’s end.

He received contributions from News Corp. (parent of Fox News) CEO and Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a fundraiser for Hatch and personally gave the senator $2,500 and Salt Lake City-based O.C. Tanner held a fundraiser where 50 employees or their spouses gave $56,000. Hatch also received $19,500 from executives associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Aside from these contributions, the senator launched a “Hatch Victory Committee” that jointly raised $190,000 for his campaign account, his political action committee and other Senate Republicans, through the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Hatch’s two GOP challengers Dan Liljenquist and state Rep. Chris Herrod and his Democratic opponent Pete Ashdown launched their campaigns in 2012 and therefore did not file a year-end report.

Sen. Mike Lee’s staff did not provide his campaign finance disclosure.

The incumbents • GOP Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz were the only candidates who filed in their respective districts and both reported modest fundraising totals.

Bishop, who represents the 1st Congressional District collected $42,000 in contributions and has $88,500 in his account, and that’s after he gave $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group that supports House GOP candidates.

Chaffetz, from the 3rd Congressional District, raised $63,000 and spent $146,000 (including money left over from previous months). That leaves him with $131,000 to spend on his re-election bid.

House District 2 • This is a wide open race, loaded with GOP challengers and a few jumped in so recently they don’t have to file yet, like former state House Speaker Dave Clark. Five Republicans did file.

Jason Buck, a former professional football player, raised $96,000 from a small group of friends, most of whom gave the maximum amount allowed by law and he has that same amount to spend on the race.

Cherilyn Eagar, who ran for Senate in 2010, raised $53,000, but her campaign ended the quarter with about $38,000 in debt.

Chris Stewart, an energy consultant, pumped $84,000 of his own money into the campaign and raised another $24,600. He had $105,000 to spend at the end of the year.

Howard Wallack, a Park City native who owns Wallack Freight Lines, raised $106,000 and loaned his campaign another $9,700. He ended the fourth quarter with $85,000 available.

Chuck Williams loaned his campaign $1,000 and raised $4,000. He has an operating debt of about $8,700.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham

Laura Schmitz contributed to this report.