Provo mayor and Republican congressional candidate John Curtis has skated past his Democratic opponent — raising nearly three times more in donations over the last three months — with the most recent financial filings in the race for Utah’s vacant House seat.
Still, though Curtis has picked up support as the Nov. 7 special election nears, he has not yet surpassed all that Kathie Allen has raised since she launched her first-time campaign in March to challenge Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who since stepped down early.
Allen has collected nearly $792,000 total, about $118,000 more than Curtis and a surprising feat for a Democrat in the reliably Republican 3rd Congressional District. But she has also spent more, has less cash available and has raked in less each quarter since her bid for office began.
“Obviously, it slowed down quite a bit,” said her campaign manager, Emily Bingham. “It was difficult to re-engage donors once Jason Chaffetz wasn’t the candidate anymore, but I think we did a good job reaching out and getting support from different people this time.”
Allen raised most of her money at the beginning of her bid, while Curtis has fetched more as the race has progressed. The mayor amassed roughly $302,800 since the beginning of July, according to third quarter campaign filings due Sunday. Allen picked up $112,000.
He has $115,900 in cash on hand. She has $89,500.
“The momentum is on John’s side,” said Curtis spokesman Danny Laub. “[His] message of taking conservative reform and getting things done to Washington is resonating with voters across the district.”
Curtis does, however, have $123,000 in debt, including $75,000 on a $100,000 loan he made to his campaign during the primary and $48,000 for political consulting.
During this quarter, he spent $9,000 for a legal adviser to help navigate filling out his personal finance disclosure, which Laub called “particularly difficult” given the mayor’s many involvements and holdings. And he doled out $60,000 for TV commercials.
The cost to run two campaign ads posted on Facebook — one exhorting Congress to “build the wall” and the other calling to “stop sanctuary cities” — that Curtis later removed and apologized for were not billed before the end of September and do not appear on the most recent filing that included nearly $300,000 in overhead.
When receiving donations of more than $200, candidates must report who gave, how much they gave and when. Of those bigger, itemized contributions to the mayor, most came from inside Utah. Roughly 90 percent of Allen’s came from out of the state (primarily California and New York).
“Across the country, people are concerned about what’s going on in Washington,” Bingham said.
The larger portion of Allen’s money, though — some 72 percent — comes from smaller contributions that average about $35 each. And Allen has just $600 from PACs while Curtis took in $95,200 this quarter, including a maximum donation of $2,700 from Chaffetz’s campaign committee.
Allen, too, spent a half a million during the same period, including $1,500 on Facebook ads and nearly $300,000 to produce and run four TV commercials. She does not report any campaign debt.
None of the five Democrats that Chaffetz faced and demolished since his first win in 2008 spent more than $60,000, and the congressman never captured less than 65 percent of the vote.
Following suit, Curtis has polled strongly in the race, nearly 38 percentage points ahead of Allen and more than 48 points ahead of the new United Utah Party’s Jim Bennett.
Bennett, son of the late three-term Sen. Bob Bennett, has raised $14,880 and Libertarian Joe Buchman $6,626.