We still don’t know whether Republican Mitt Romney plans to run for another term in the U.S. Senate next year, but his most recent fundraising filing suggests he may be gearing up for a primary fight.
Romney has consistently danced around questions about whether he is going to run in 2024 but is quick to say he is confident he will win should he seek another six years in Washington.
“I’m confident that I would win if I decide to run. I’ll have the resources, and I believe the people of Utah would be with me,” Romney told reporters in February.
Romney reported more than $1 million in contributions to his campaign from April through June. Almost three-quarters of that total comes from renting out his fundraising list to an outside firm. Targeted Victory, a firm headed by former Romney staffer Zac Moffatt, paid Romney’s campaign nearly $714,000 for access to his fundraising list in late June.
Still, Romney’s fundraising haul improved over the first three months of 2023, when he pulled in just under $112,000.
Romney’s campaign tallied $17,570 in individual donations during the three-month reporting period and $46,000 from various political action committees. However, Romney recently added some fundraising muscle from a pair of prominent Senate Republicans, joining the joint fundraising efforts of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
McConnell’s intervention in the Utah Senate race is not a surprise. Late last year he said he was “absolutely” ready to spend on behalf of Romney in 2024.
“He’s been a really important part of our conference. People respect his intelligence, his assessment of the era we find ourselves in. And I think his running for reelection would be very important. It’s important for the Republican Party and the country that he runs again,” McConnell told Politico in December.
Romney did not report any transfers from McConnell’s committee but did receive approximately $180,000 from the joint effort with Cornyn. Romney’s “Team Mitt” joint fundraising effort contributed $127,000 to his campaign this cycle.
Wilson raises over $1 million
Romney’s fundraising effort was eclipsed by Republican Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, who reported just over $1 million in individual donations during the reporting period, according to FEC filings. Most of those contributions came from supporters who gave Wilson the maximum individual donation of $9,900, meaning he can’t tap that funding pool again during this election cycle.
Several current and former lawmakers gave maximum donations to Wilson’s nascent effort. They include current Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, current Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, former Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, former Utah House Majority Leaders Kevin Garn and Sheldon Killpack, former Sen. Dan Liljenquist and former Rep. Derek Brown.
Wilson has repeatedly claimed he is not yet an official candidate and is only exploring the possibility. That’s despite registering as a candidate with the FEC in April. His spending report also suggests the operation is more stealth campaign than exploratory effort. In May, his campaign paid $36,000 to polling firm WPA Intelligence, the same outfit used by Sen. Mike Lee during his 2022 reelection campaign. Wilson also shelled out $10,000 for “fundraising services.”
Staggs raises over $170k
Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs reported raising just over $170,000 for the three months. His donations include $1,000 from Harmeet Dhillon, who unsuccessfully challenged Ronna McDaniel for Republican National Committee Chair earlier this year.
Wilson reported having more than $2.1 million in his war chest, but that total includes a $1.2 million personal loan to his campaign. FEC rules allow him to repay himself for the loan out of his campaign funds. Romney reported just over $1.5 million cash on hand, with nearly half of that total from the $713,000 earned from renting out his fundraising list. Staggs reported approximately $209,000 cash on hand, bolstered by $60,000 he loaned to his campaign.
Correction • July 17, 4:05 p.m.: The story has been updated to correct that Sen. Mitt Romney’s campaign received payment for the use of a fundraising roster by an outside firm.