1st Congressional District candidates dig into their own pockets for half their campaign funds

(Courtesy photos) Clockwise from top left: Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District Kerry Gibson, Blake Moore, Katie Witt and Bob Stevenson

Just four donors with deep pockets are providing nearly half of all campaign money for the hotly contested 1st Congressional District Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Rob Bishop.

Those big donors are the four candidates themselves.

They used personal money to provide 48% of what their campaigns have raised — a combined $572,000 of the $1.2 million total, according to disclosure forms filed this week.

Providing the most so far is Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson, loaning his campaign $262,017, including $105,317 in the latest reporting period from April through June 10. That was 74% of the total he raised.

Businessman Blake Moore loaned himself a total of $158,983, including $150,000 in the last reporting period. That was 45% of what he raised.

Former Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson loaned his campaign $76,184, including a late $25,000 loan this past week. That is 32% of his total.

Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt loaned her campaign $75,000, including $5,000 in the most recent period. That was 30% percent of her total.

Winning candidates often are able to pay back such personal loans through future donations, but losers likely will need to write off the loans as losses.

Polls have shown that the race is close, including a Dan Jones & Associates poll this month that showed Stevenson and Moore each with 16% support, Gibson with 13% and Witt with 7% — but a huge 48% undecided. (That poll was released by Utah Election Hive consulting firm, which has Moore as a client.)

Disclosure forms show that the money race is also close.

Including loans to themselves, Moore has raised 29.8% of the total in the race; Stevenson raised 29.6%; Witt, 20.7%; and Gibson, 19.8%.

By amount, Moore raised $357,639; Stevenson amassed $354,497; Witt, $247,621; and Gibson, $238,600.

Democrats also have a primary in the 1st Congressional District, a seat that party has not won in 40 years. Democratic candidates provided a combined 28% of their much smaller campaign totals.

Progressive candidate Jamie Cheek gave her campaign $8,769 in donations, or 32.6% of the total 26,926 she raised. Moderate Darren Parry loaned his campaign $1,626, or 15.9% of the total $10,253 he raised.

New disclosure forms show some other interesting donations to the candidates.

One to Gibson is a reminder of controversy he faced when he was the state agricultural commissioner and oversaw selection of new cannabis growers for the state.

Several losing bidders complained he had inappropriate contact during a “black out” period in bidding with one of the winning companies, called True North. That company’s principal, Mike Standlee, earlier gave Gibson’s campaign a maximum-possible $9,400 donation for the cycle. In the most recent reporting period, Standlee’s wife, Whendy, also donated $2,800.

Gibson also attracted donations from eight current or former legislators in the last reporting period, including $2,000 from House Speaker Brad Wilson (who also gave $1,000 to Witt). He also received $1,000 from Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller.

Witt — who attracted attention for supporting a concert to protest COVID-19 restrictions — attracted donations from right-wing conservatives, including $1,000 from state Rep. Phil Lyman (once convicted of criminal charges for leading a protest ride on federal lands), $500 from the American Conservative Union and $5,000 from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

Moore attracted donations from some well-known businessmen, including $2,800 from Harris Simmons, chairman of Zions Bancorporation; $500 from Spencer F. Eccles, chairman emeritus of the Intermountain region of Wells Fargo Bank; and $2,800 from Khosrow Semnani, owner of Trolley Square.

Stevenson received $1,000 in leftover money from the campaign of former Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and large donations from some auto dealers: $8,400 from Kent Murdock of Murdock Chevrolet and $5,600 from Spencer Young of Young Chevrolet.