Democrat Ben McAdams outraises Utah Rep. Mia Love by $42,000 in donations

Republican Rep. Mia Love has raised less money and spent more than her Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, according to the first financial reports filed for the competitive congressional race.

The Utah congresswoman, who sits at a slight 5-point advantage in polls, brought in nearly $460,700 in donations from October through December. That’s about $42,000 less than McAdams. But her campaign isn’t worried.

“It’s low-hanging fruit,” said Sasha Clark, Love’s communication coordinator. “There’s a roof when it comes to Democrats fundraising in Utah. We think it will be hard for Ben to keep up.”

Love also spent $195,480 in that period — four times as much as McAdams did — according to her filing Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. But, with $310,000 left over from the previous quarter, the congresswoman actually has more cash available to spend: $575,842.

The mayor, meanwhile, raised slightly more than a half-million dollars in the roughly three months since he announced he would challenge Love. That’s a quick start for a race against a well-known incumbent.

“This early level of support shows that Utahns want an end to partisan gridlock and lack of progress on issues important to them and to their families,” McAdams said in a written statement. “I’m excited about the upcoming campaign and the opportunity to connect with voters as we build on this momentum.”

He spent about $42,400 and had $460,102 left over at the end of the quarter.

Both McAdams and Love raised the bulk of their money from large donors contributing more than $200 each, which candidates must itemize by name, amount and date. For McAdams, that included $2,700 from Bryson Garbett, a developer who did his own undercover stayover at the downtown homeless shelter about two years before McAdams posed as a homeless person for a weekend. Love got $2,700 each from Jon Huntsman Sr. and his wife, Karen.

The congresswoman, too, raised five times more money — about $138,500 — from political action committees than McAdams did.

Political handicappers have listed this race as a possible opportunity for Democrats to nab a seat typically considered safely Republican.

The latest poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for the Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics, put the GOP congresswoman ahead of the mayor, 47 percent to 42 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Love earned more of the vote in both of her previous elections against Democrat Doug Owens (whom she beat in 2014 with a 5.1-point margin and in 2016 with a 12.5-point margin).

Paul Huntsman, the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune, is a son of Jon Sr. and Karen Huntsman.