Washington • Utahns donated nearly $12 million to the presidential candidates during the last election, with Republican Mitt Romney alone taking in a windfall of about $9.3 million.
That's according to the (mostly) final numbers now available from the Federal Election Commission after candidates filed their updated reports after the race.
Romney, an adopted favorite son in Utah who has been spotted in the state several times since losing the White House race, took in more in the 2012 race than he did four years ago, thanks mainly to his ability to take both primary and general election contributions.
President Barack Obama picked up nearly $2 million from the state, while the next in line, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, took in only $366,000. That doesn't include the millions Huntsman, still a Utah resident, gave to his own campaign, nor the millions his dad, Jon Huntsman Sr., tossed in to a super PAC supporting his son.
While the campaign ended in November, candidates have adjusted their final contribution tallies in subsequent reports, with several Utah donations still rolling in and refunds being issued to those who topped the maximum limits.
Oil vs. wilderness • Democrats last week re-introduced the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act bill to declare some 9.5 million acres in Utah as wilderness, legislation that's languished without a vote every year since 1997 and faces steep opposition from Utah's Republican members.
Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., argued that action needs to be taken soon or America risks losing treasured landscapes to make way for a temporary boom in oil and gas drilling.
"A gallon of gas in the tank of an [off-road vehicle] will only take you so far, but a vote to designate America's Red Rock Wilderness Areas would perpetuate for all time," Holt said.
The act has 60 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate, none of whom are Utahns.
Commencement addresses • Romney will give the commencement address at Southern Virginia University, a private college not affiliated with the LDS Church but which includes a large Mormon enrollment. Romney is set to speak Saturday at the school in Buena Vista, Va.
Meanwhile, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is offering the address at the University of Washington's commencement on June 15. There is a tie in here as the university's president, Michael Young, is the former head of the University of Utah.
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