Washington • President Donald Trump has raised more money from Utahns than any single Democratic candidate this year, but Democratic contenders combined have raised far more than Trump.
The president’s haul from Utah in the first six months of the year tops $354,00 while the crowded Democratic field has raised more than $755,000, records show.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leads the Democrats in Utah with his fundraising prowess, claiming nearly $250,000. That beats Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's $115,000 and the $101,000 that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled in.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California raised $56,000 while former Vice President Joe Biden picked up about $53,000, according to campaign finance reports compiled by the Center for Public Integrity and ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising platform that candidates are using to pull in small-dollar donations.
Utah gave its Electoral College votes to Trump in 2016, though he didn’t pick up a majority of voters in the state against Democrat Hillary Clinton and independent Evan McMullin.
“Utah is historically a red state but it has proven that it is willing to consider alternatives,” says Jason Perry, the head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. “And that is not just for their votes but it's clearly also the case with their money.”
Trump has raised about $125 million toward his reelection nationally but there hasn’t been any concerted effort to make Utah his ATM as now-senator and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012 when he raised more than $9 million from the Beehive State.
Biden joined the presidential effort later than many of his rivals, leaving him behind a bit in fundraising dollars but ahead in national polls and surveys of early voting states. He plans to hold a fundraiser in Utah on Sept. 28 at the Park City home of Amy and Barry Baker, longtime media executives who hosted Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential bid.
Sanders is leading in taking in dollars from Utah Democrats, a good number of whom supported him in his last run. Several of the Utah delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia have again given to his campaign.
“Bernie has a very good base in Utah,” says Perry. “It's clear that he has a good following in Utah and these early numbers on funding show that many of [his supporters] are still with him.”
Trump’s campaign has yet to mount a fundraising effort in Utah, though supporters say it will be a good place for him to find cash.
The president visited Utah during his 2016 campaign and swung back through the state in 2017 to slash the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments but hasn’t been back since. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited to push a new treaty with Canada and Mexico, but did not hold a fundraiser.
Ron Fox, one of the state’s top supporters of the president, chalks up the president’s haul from Utah to the fact it’s only been small-dollar numbers so far. There hasn’t been a concerted effort yet to raise money for the president.
“I think you’ll see a marked change once the campaign gets going and you have some organized fundraisers where the Trump organization has the president or the vice president or someone like him out here,” says Fox, a Utah historian who helped lead the president’s state campaign in 2016. “And I think that, you know, we’ll do very well and probably outstrip any Democratic nominee.”
The Trump campaign didn't respond for comment.
Trump also has several affiliated groups raising money for his 2020 bid, money that isn't included in the totals summed up in this story. Some of them are harder to track given the spiderweb of linked campaigns.
Feeling the Bern
Sanders handily won the Utah Democratic caucus in 2016, walking away with nearly 80 percent of voters to Clinton’s 20 percent.
When he withdrew from the race, Clinton took over his delegates, though not without resistance by some of Utah’s Sanders supporters who joined a sit in during the national convention against her coronation as the Democratic nominee.
Some of those Sanders delegates are continuing to give to him this cycle, besting all the other party hopefuls in the field.
Beyond the top three Democrats pulling money out the state, Utahns have also given $34,000 to former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, nearly $26,000 to entrepreneur Andrew Yang, $25,000 to author Marianne Williamson and about $22,000 to Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Sen. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Cory Booker also grabbed more than $10,000 from Utahns, while others were stuck below that mark. Some candidates who have already withdrawn from the race, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, raised about $9,000 each from Utahns before pulling the plug.
Jake Pruett is one of the thousands of donors who have given to a presidential candidate.
The Layton resident and Black Diamond employee is also one of many who has spread money among several contenders. He likes Sanders but also wants a good race.
“My primary motivation for the other ones is just to kind of hear from them,” Pruett says. “I thought there was a value to their voices being heard.”
He's given several small-dollar donations to Sanders – $3 here and there and $27 sometimes – and also tossed a dollar to former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, the longest of the long-shots in the campaign.
“Gravel was kind of just on a whim but for Bernie it's giving him a solid base of support that he can count on,” Pruett says.
Utah's primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday next year on March 3, joining several other states casting their ballots for their favored candidate that date.
Fox, a die-hard Trump supporter, says even if the president is behind the Democrats in grabbing money from donors in Utah, it's a positive thing to have more people contributing to the process.
“I applaud people who put their money where their mouth is,” Fox says.