Utahns provide $1 million-plus weekend for Romney
Posted: 3:51 PM- WASHINGTON - Utahns raised more than $1 million for presidential candidate Mitt Romney last weekend, according to those who helped collect the funds.
Between three events in the Beehive State on Saturday and some 150 Utahns flying to Boston for a phone-a-thon fund-raiser, Utah supporters pulled in about $1.4 million for Romney's 2008 White House bid, the sources say.
Romney already netted some $2.7 million from Utahns in the first three months of this year, making it his second-highest yielding state behind California.
"It's an impressive amount of money to be raised in a state this size," says Kelly Patterson, director of the Brigham Young University Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.
"He has a history here and knows the people here," Patterson said of Romney. "All candidates turn to natural bases of support and Utah would be a natural base for him."
Some 60 percent of Utahns belong to the same Mormon faith as Romney, and the former Massachusetts governor also has many business ties in the state from his days running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He also owns a home in Deer Valley.
Kem Gardner, a close friend and adviser to Romney, said he paid some $150,000 to charter a Jet Blue plane to Boston from Salt Lake City and all the seats were full. The group had a barbecue at Fenway Park Sunday and then on Monday got down to business making calls to cull funds for Romney at a telethon-like event at the Boston Gardens.
"You hardly dared leave your seat because they were working so hard," Gardner said of his Utah compatriots.
He says the supporters did a survey on the way back to Utah and just those on the plane raised $800,000. That, plus other Utahns who took other routes home and the $400,000 Romney raised in Utah this weekend, adds up to $1.4 million, Gardner says.
"It was fun; it was exciting," he adds. "It was an experience a lot of people didn't have before."
The second-quarter fund-raising effort ends Friday, though the reports on the amounts raised do not have to be filed until July 15. Some candidates choose to release them early.
Romney raised the most in the Republican field in the first quarter, $21 million, but the campaign is downplaying how much it will raise this time. The former governor told reporters in Boston Monday that he plans to donate to his campaign again from his own personal fortune this quarter but declined to say how much.
Romney's campaign declined to comment on how much Utahns have raised so far this quarter.
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