Rep. Ben McAdams is winning 4th District fundraising race so far

Washington • Former NFL player Burgess Owens is winning the cash race in his primary bid for the GOP nomination for the 4th Congressional District of Utah but his campaign account is still a fraction of what Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams has in the bank.

McAdams, a freshman who is seeking reelection, has amassed more than $2.2 million, far more than all four Republican candidates combined in the district made up mostly of voters in Salt Lake and Utah counties.

Owens has $111,000 in campaign cash left compared to the $84,000 state Rep. Kim Coleman has on hand, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission ahead of the June 30 primary.

Former radio host Jay McFarland's report shows he has nearly $5,300 in the bank and nonprofit executive Trent Christensen has $2,400 with about $113,000 in debt.

The primary among the four Republicans will decide which one of them will take on McAdams in November.

McAdams, who started fundraising for his reelection soon after he won his seat to the House in 2018, clearly had a head start over his GOP opponents. They mostly started raising cash earlier this year. And the power of incumbency means McAdams can rake in donations from political action committees.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Congressman Ben McAdams, D-Utah, visits the Salt Lake County Public Health Center, April 28, 2020. He has rung up a clear lead in the fundraising sweepstakes for the 4th Congressional District.

The four GOP candidates have had to compete with each other for contributions even as a recession hit and the coronavirus kept small dollar donations from flowing.

Still, the Republican candidates say they'll be fine once they get through the primary and into the general election.

Owens, who played in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, says McAdams' cash on hand isn't going to be enough.

“This election he’ll need at least 10 times that amount to convince voters he’s still a moderate after voting with the far left side of the Democratic Party 89% of the time,” Owens said in a statement.

Owens’ campaign didn’t respond to a question of where it pulled that voting percentage from but McAdams has consistently been rated one of the more moderate Democrats in the House.

Coleman, whose campaign has raised a total of $575,000 and spent $490,000 so far, said that was an impressive haul given the number of GOP contenders — there were far more before being winnowed at the state convention — and the economic times.

“Once we’re through to the general, more than enough money will pour in to take out Rep. McAdams,” Coleman said in a statement Friday. “I’m going to make him spend every penny he has defending his support of Nancy Pelosi’s far-left agenda and her unconstitutional impeachment sham.”

McAdams voted for someone other than Pelosi for speaker but he did back the Democrats’ impeachment of President Donald Trump. An impeachment is the constitutional method outlined by the founders to remove a president from office.

McFarland didn’t respond to an email request for comment.

Christensen, who ran the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation previously and now raises money for nonprofit ventures, owes some of his debt — about $64,000 — to himself, some of it money he put up to gather signatures to ensure he got on the primary ballot.

Christensen, who jumped into the race shortly before the pandemic hit Utah, says he’s not worried about raising enough money. He’s a professional fundraiser and worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign raising tens of millions for his 2012 bid.

And he added that while other candidates talk about raising as much as McAdams, Christensen says he'll go further.

“It’s not about matching it,” he said. “It’s about getting to $4 million to $5 million dollars if you want to win this race.”

McFarland also loaned his campaign about $5,800.

Most of his debt is owed to campaign consultants, including some $44,000 to Vanguard Field Strategies for gathering signatures.

McAdams' campaign says it's comfortable with the fundraising lead and grateful to donors.

“Utahns appreciate Congressman McAdams’ focus on what matters most,” said McAdams’ campaign manager Andrew Roberts. “Whether it’s his legislation to protect our children from online predators or his looking out for the needs of small businesses and every day people while Utah works to reopen safely, our campaign is in great shape and continues to enjoy an outpouring of support from folks who know Ben is looking out for them and for their families in Washington.”