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Of GOP contenders to replace Chaffetz, Provo mayor has raised the most — and he's still not even close to the Democratic challenger

First Published      Last Updated Jul 18 2017 10:30 pm

3rd District » Curtis has more cash than 2 other GOP hopefuls combined, adds a personal loan of $100,000.

In the competitive race to replace Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Provo Mayor John Curtis has collected more campaign cash than his two Republican competitors combined — though nearly half of his contributions come from a $100,000 loan he made to himself.

That's almost equal to his yearly mayoral salary: $109,500 (with an additional $54,800 in benefits).

But even without the self-financing, Curtis has outpaced former state Rep. Chris Herrod and businessman Tanner Ainge in fundraising for the accelerated special election. He hauled in more donations, received contributions from more people, and, after expenses, has more money available to spend prior to the Aug. 15 primary.

"Our fundraising strengths are a testament to our positive, issue-based campaign," Curtis said in a statement, noting that he's "overwhelmed by the outpouring of support." His campaign declined to comment on the loan.

By the end of June, Curtis had raised nearly $232,500, including his personal loan, according to quarterly filings that were due Saturday. After costs for consulting, office space and campaign supplies, he has $218,000 in cash on hand.

That puts him well ahead of Ainge, who has a $43,600 balance, and Herrod, who has $77,900 in available funds. Curtis can add that to his early lead among voters, according to a recent Utah Policy poll.

Curtis' account does not mention money owed to a firm for helping him gather signatures in his bid to get on the ballot. That invoice, said his campaign manager Danny Laub, came after the June 30 cutoff for this filing period and will appear on the next report. Laub would not give an estimate for that cost.

Ainge, who also went the signature-gathering route, paid $77,000 in fees to Gather, Inc. of Ogden for that same service. It was his biggest expense out of the $87,000 he spent — the largest outlay of any of the three GOP campaigns. His platform is to "cut spending and reduce the national debt."

"I would have to believe that John Curtis spent more gathering his signatures," Ainge added.

Before spending, Ainge raised nearly $130,900 — which also included a $40,400 loan from himself. He explained that personal contribution as being "ready to get any resources we need to win this election."

About two-thirds of his contributions came from wealthy donors giving more than $200. That includes maximum contributions of $2,700 from his father, Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge, and two other Ainge family members living in Massachusetts.

He also received money from the chief revenue officer for the Utah Jazz (despite the outcry over Gordon Hayward's departure) and from the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Roughly 65 percent of Ainge's large donations, which must be itemized by location, date and amount, came from outside of Utah. Meanwhile, Curtis boasted more local support, picking up 89 percent of his contributions from within the state, primarily Utah County.

Herrod fared the best in national donations — or the worst in in-state fundraising. He collected more than three-fourths of his big money from outside of Utah with help and backing from the Senate Conservatives Fund and the House Freedom Fund (political action committees which also collectively gave him $10,000).

"The easier money to raise is the stuff that comes in bundles," he said.

And, he added, most of his smaller contributions, donations of less than $200 that are not required to be detailed, came from within Utah.

The former state representative is the only candidate with a reported debt. Though he collected $79,400 in donations — and spent only $1,500 — he still owes former state Rep. Ken Sumsion $4,700 for yard signs and Sovereign Strategies $10,000 for website design. He plans to pay that off with his cash on hand and feels "very comfortable" with where he's at financially.

Whichever Republican candidate wins the coveted spot on the general election ballot will be dwarfed by the fundraising efforts of Democrat and first-time candidate Kathie Allen. The 63-year-old physician and Cottonwood Heights physician had raised more than $500,000 by the end of March.

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