Washington • Rep. Jim Matheson has started stockpiling cash in preparation for a potential rematch against Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love.
Matheson, a seven-term Democrat, raised $288,000 since the first of the year and now has $241,000 available for the 2014 showdown.
He sent repeated fundraising requests centered on Love’s re-emergence as a potential Republican candidate and on the National Republican Congressional Committee calling him a top target.
Matheson told supporters he beat his fundraising goals for the three-month period, allowing him to get a head start in what is expected to be an expensive race.
“This one was critical with outside groups already targeting our race and opponents lining up,” he said in an email to donors.
He beat Love by just 768 votes last November in a contest that involved more than $10 million in spending by the candidates and outside groups.
Love has yet to officially join the race, but has hired Dave Hansen, who ran Sen. Orrin Hatch’s campaign and has started raising money too.
She collected $44,300 in contributions from January to the end of March and has $147,000 in available funds.
“While I have not yet announced a final decision regarding the 2014 race, I am very pleased with the number of groups and individuals who have indicated support through their contributions for my potential congressional run in 2014,” Love said.
The perpetual campaign is unusual in Utah, said University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank.
“I can’t think of a time, even when we might anticipate someone running again, that it got started up so quickly,” he said. “Not only was it extremely close last time, but then Mia Love turned around and essentially said ‘I’m going to do this again in two years.’ That forced this process forward.”
In 2012, Love kept pace with Matheson’s fundraising in part by raising small donations nationally from people excited that she had the chance to be the first black Republican woman in Congress.
So far this year, the overwhelming majority of her money, $39,000, came from people who gave less than $200.
In contrast, a huge majority of Matheson’s money, $9 out of every $10, came from the political action committees operated by corporations, unions and fellow politicians.
The congressman did hold a Park City fundraiser and had 15 Utahns give him more than $200 each. And he raised more than $7,000 in small contributions.