Cash fuels pacesetters in bid to fill Matheson’s seat
Love juggernaut outpaces GOP challenger; attorneys back Owens on Democratic side.
Published: April 14, 2014 09:57PM
Updated: April 14, 2014 10:34PM
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Bob Fuehr is seeking the Republican nomination in Utah's 4th Congressional District.

Three candidates, three separate strategies and a whole lot of money. The latest campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, show some big differences between the most prominent people vying to replace Rep. Jim Matheson in Congress. On the Republican side, there’s Mia Love, the national GOP darling, fighting against Bob Fuehr, the self-funding businessman. On the Democratic side is Doug Owens, a lawyer who has buddied up to some of the state’s biggest power players.

Love, the Republican who ran against Matheson in 2012, raised $454,000 since Jan. 1 and topped the $2 million mark for the cycle. But she also spent more money than she brought in, eating into her campaign balance, though she still has $632,000 available.

She dropped about $551,000, with the bulk of it going to her large campaign staff and to pay for mailers sent throughout the nation soliciting contributions.

A little more than half of her contributions were below the disclosure threshold of $200 per person and of those who topped that amount, the vast majority were not from Utah.

Love is a nationally prominent politician, though the only elected offices she has held have been in small Saratoga Springs, Utah, where she served on the city council and as mayor. She is a Haitian-American who, if elected, would be the first black female Republican in Congress.

She lost narrowly to Matheson last time, but the Democrat has decided not to run for an eighth term.

Fuehr, a former executive with the now defunct telecom giant US West, is financing his candidacy largely out of his own pocket.

He cashed just one donation, worth $500, since the start of the year. He has loaned his campaign $90,000 since then.

Since joining the 4th Congressional District race, Fuehr has contributed $281,000 to his campaign, though he has repaid himself more than $90,000 of that.

Fuehr is hoping to at least force a primary election. He will get his chance at the April 26 state Republican convention. If one of the two candidates gets 60 percent of the delegate votes, then he or she wins the nomination. If no one can reach that threshold, the two will face off in a June primary.

On the Democratic side, Owens, a lawyer and son of a former House member, raised nearly $133,000 from Democratic power brokers and fellow attorneys. This was his first reporting period since joining the race.

Owens collected $9,300 from his colleagues at Holland & Hart, where he is a corporate defense attorney.

He also raised money from some of Utah’s wealthy and politically active citizens, such as Bruce Bastian, Art Lipson, Ian Cumming and Kem Gardner. He even collected a $500 contribution from Deseret News photographer Tom Smart.

Owens, the son of the late Rep. Wayne Owens, isn’t the only Democrat in the race.

He’s running against retired engineer Bill Peterson, a former Republican who has not yet filed a campaign-finance report.

Others in the race are Tim Aalders of the Independent American Party, Collin Robert Simonsen of the Constitution Party and Jim Vein of the Libertarian Party.

None of the third party candidates filed a campaign finance report yet.

mcanham@sltrib.com