Mitt Romney transfers $1 million left over from his presidential run to his Senate race in Utah

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney talks to the media after he filed to run for the United States Senate, in the Lt. Governor's office at the State Capitol, Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Mitt Romney’s 2012 run as the GOP presidential nominee made him a household name in Utah. As it turns out, that past campaign also gave him a big financial head start for his U.S. Senate race here now.

He transferred $1 million left over from his presidential campaign to his Senate push, according to disclosure forms made available by his campaign Tuesday.

He may still have a few hundred thousand dollars more left in the presidential account. His year-end report for it previously had listed $1.3 million in cash on hand there.

Including the $1 million transfer, Romney reported raising $1.68 million through April 1 this year for his Senate bid. He reported spending $526,516, and said he has $1.15 million in cash on hand.

The big-money transfer — originating mostly from out-of-state donors — brought criticism from other candidates.

“The $1 million is indicative of what we’re seeing from Mitt Romney. He’s bringing in national money to make this a national-profile race,” said Jenny Wilson, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the race.

“I’m a Utahn running for Utahns,” she said, adding most candidates receive some national money but not as much as Romney is attracting. “Utahns need to ask if Mitt would represent the nation, or would he represent Utah.”

Wilson’s disclosure form is not due for another week, because the Utah Democratic Convention is a week later than the state GOP convention. She said she expects to have a small fraction of cash on hand compared to Romney.

“It’s challenging to compete against that kind of money,” said Larry Meyers, a St. George attorney who is one of 11 Republicans challenging Romney at the April 21 Utah Republican Convention.

He figures he has raised about $15,000 total and has about $4,000 cash on hand.

Meyers — a conservative running well to the right of Romney — figures he still has a shot as he has been campaigning hard among the 4,000 or so state delegates with phone calls, group meetings and one-on-one meetings. “I think the message matters more than the money.”

Of course, Romney has also been working hard in such meetings — often offering a breakfast or lunch for delegates who come to listen to him.

State Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, another challenger to Romney, also complained about his $1 million transfer. “If he had millions of dollars left over from his presidential campaigns that include donations from special interests and people outside of Utah, why didn’t he use that money to win and defeat [Barack] Obama?”

Kennedy’s disclosure form shows he loaned his campaign $251,143 — making up the bulk of the $289,000 he raised this period. He reports $257,488 in cash on hand. He has spent $31,535 so far.

Disclosure forms for other Senate candidates had not yet appeared Tuesday on the Federal Election Commission’s website. They normally file forms first with the Senate, where they are digitized and provided to the FEC — which slows the process.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the office of Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox reports it has verified 24,478 voter signatures so far out of the 28,000 needed by Romney to qualify for the primary election using that path to the ballot. The deadline to submit signatures is Monday.

Romney is the only Republican U.S. Senate candidate gathering signatures. All others are hoping to qualify for the ballot just through the state convention, while Romney is using both paths. “I’m both a suspender and belt kind of guy,” Romney said earlier about using both paths to ensure his candidacy proceeds.

If Romney wins 60 percent of delegate votes, he would eliminate all the other Republicans and proceed directly to the Nov. 6 general election. If no candidate wins 60 percent of the vote, the top two convention candidates proceed to a primary — plus Romney if he gathers enough signatures and is beaten at the convention.

Romney’s new disclosure form includes some interesting donors — including former President George W. Bush, who gave him the maximum-allowed $8,100.

Others who gave him the maximum-allowed $8,100 include Richard Marriott, chairman of Host Hotels and Resorts; Harris Simmons, chairman/CEO of Zions Bancorp.; and John Cumming, chairman of the ski-resort-owning Powdr Corp.