Mia Love a fundraising Goliath, Owens tries to catch up
District 4 • GOP, Democratic hopefuls both plan fall TV blitz.
Published: July 16, 2014 02:14PM
Updated: July 16, 2014 10:42PM
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Al Hartmann | Tribune File Photo Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love.

In campaign speeches, Mia Love has equated her second run for Congress to the David and Goliath story, urging her supporters to run with her as she tries to slay the giant and win a seat in the House.

But a quick glance at the latest campaign finance reports, filed late Tuesday, makes it abundantly clear that in Utah’s 4th District, she’s Goliath.

Love, a Republican and the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, raised $730,800 in the past three months, an unprecedented amount for a House candidate in the state. She also spent $495,800 in that time period, half of which went to pay for the mailers she has sent throughout the country to raise small donations from supporters.

She now has $873,000 in the bank and recently committed a little less than half that amount to a TV ad blitz, which will start Sept. 15.

Her Democratic opponent, Doug Owens, has also reserved TV space beginning that same day. He has secured about $300,000 in spots that would run on the four major broadcast channels and cable, though he has a few months before he has to pay for the spots.

He’ll need that time to raise the funds. Owens, a lawyer and first-time candidate for office, raised $161,600 since April, almost all of the money coming from Utahns. Among his contributors is Norma Matheson, the mother of outgoing Rep. Jim Matheson, who declined to seek an eighth House term.

Owens has attempted to pattern his race off of Matheson’s past successes. Matheson narrowly defeated Love in 2012, largely because of his crossover appeal with Utah conservatives.

Owens had $209,700 in available cash at the end of June. He appears to be an underdog in the race and not just because of the cash disparity.

Cook Political Report, a respected campaign handicapper, is tracking the race as one that could become competitive but says it’s likely to go to the Republican.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to announce any ad push in the district, nor have outside groups, which flooded the airwaves during the Matheson-Love showdown.

Love has been one of the top 10 fundraisers among House candidates nationally, partly because of the historic nature of her campaign. If she wins, she’ll be the first black Republican woman to serve in Congress.

Her report showed contributions from four political-action committees associated with black conservatives. She also received contributions from Restore Our Future, the PAC tied to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Country First PAC, controlled by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. She also received $5,000 from former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, shortly before his surprising defeat in his Virginia primary.

Many of her contributions come from people who give less than $200, the threshold for requiring reporting the donation to the Federal Election Commission. She received $344,800 in such unitemized donations.

She’s not letting that money just sit there. Love has spent $35,600 on polling in the past three months and $244,000 on the production and distribution of her donation-soliciting mailers, amounts that at this time appear out of reach for Owens.

The two of them did spend about the same amount on one thing: speech training. Both candidates spent a few thousands dollars on consultants who will help them deliver those stump speeches as they travel around the 4th District, which includes the west side of Salt Lake and Utah counties and central portions of the state.

mcanham@sltrib.com