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Salt Lake donations to Romney double Obama's, but Park City is more evenly matched

Published October 31, 2012 1:45 pm

Red state • Giving to Obama, Romney is close to even in western part of Salt Lake Valley. But, across all of Utah, Romney is outpacing Obama by nearly 5 to 1.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • The race between Mitt Romney and Presidential Barack Obama won't be decided by Salt Lake City's vote, but residents are throwing money at both candidates to help them compete in key battlegrounds.

Republican Romney leads in donations from residents of Utah's capital city, raising nearly $1.56 million so far this election cycle compared with Obama's $674,439, according to the Federal Elections Commission reports on contributions through the end of September.

The tally is more evenly matched in Park City, with Romney raising $198,814 from residents there and Obama close behind, at $119,882.

Statewide, Utahns have contributed about $7.4 million to the Republican presidential nominee, far more than the $1.5 million Obama has raised from the Beehive State.

Many Salt Lake City residents are pulling for Obama and trying to make sure he has the resources he needs.

Carole Sansone, an Obama supporter and a psychology professor at the University of Utah, says big money may be dominating the election this time around, but even a little bit from regular people helps.

"The campaign finance landscape in this country has changed, and it feels like a real possibility that someone who can contribute $10 million to a candidate has a vote that counts for much more than mine," she says, noting she speaks for herself and not the university. "I will never be able to donate $10 million to a campaign, but I do what I can to make sure that the candidate I will support with my vote is able to make his case heard."

Sansone, who made two separate $100 donations, applauds the president's decision-making process.

"He's smart, does his homework, consults people who disagree with him … and he appreciates that this is a complex world," she said.

The city, of course, isn't full of Democrats.

Haynes Gearheart, a retired farmer, said that for the first time in his 62 years of voting, he can finally support "an honorable, honest man without any question," and that man is Romney. Gearheart donated $200 to the Republican's campaign.

"We're absolutely positive knowing Mr. Romney's background principally and in the church that we couldn't find a better man," he said, referencing Romney's Mormon faith that is shared by some 60 percent of Utahns. "I have a really good feeling voting for a really good man."

Romney has led in every single poll in Utah and dominated the Republican primary in the state, carrying 93 percent of the vote. Beyond the Mormon faith connection, Utahns are quite familiar with Romney because of his work in leading the successful 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

But Salt Lake City went to Obama in the 2008 election, voting 68 percent for the Democrat to 29 percent for the Republican, Sen. John McCain. Obama also has an office in Salt Lake City hoping to gin up support.

bblanchard@sltrib.com