Brad Wilson’s U.S. Senate campaign stops buying ads — even as Utahns get ballots in the mail

Wilson, the former Utah House speaker who trails in recent polls, has invested nearly $3 million in GOP bid to replace Mitt Romney.

Brad Wilson’s U.S. Senate campaign may be quietly throwing in the towel — even as Republican primary voters began receiving their mail-in ballots in Utah.

Detailed advertising data provided to The Salt Lake Tribune and a review of the most recent Federal Communication Commission records show Wilson’s campaign has not purchased or been invoiced for television and radio advertisements since Sunday, June 2. Additionally, records show, his campaign has not reserved advertising on TV or radio for the remainder of the month.

The most recent FCC record was uploaded to the commissions website Tuesday, June 4.

Wilson’s campaign also has not run ads on Google, Facebook or YouTube since May 29.

The former Utah speaker’s three Republican opponents continue to advertise on various platforms. The campaign of Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, has booked an average of $150,000 in weekly radio and television advertising during the final three weeks of the campaign. Business executive Jason Walton has scheduled broadcast spots through the end of this week and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs is advertising on social media.

Wilson’s campaign did not respond to multiple attempts by The Tribune to ask why he appears to not be buying new advertising and whether the campaign has plans to restart advertising.

The ad pause comes as ballots arrive in Utah mailboxes ahead of the June 25 primary election. Longtime Republican political consultant Mary Anna Mancuso says it’s typically bad news when a campaign stops messaging voters at such a critical time.

“When a campaign comes off the air right as ballots are dropping, it’s a bad omen,” Mancuso said. “Usually, that’s a sign that the candidate and campaign are exiting the race.”

Some outside organizations are pouring millions into the state to support Curtis and Staggs. Two super political action committees, Conservative Values for Utah and Defend American Jobs, have spent more than $6.6 million on behalf of Curtis, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign finances.

Both super PACs have reserved thousands of dollars in advertising leading up to the election.

Protect Freedom PAC, which is linked to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is running broadcast and social media ads backing Staggs. The group is scheduled to continue its pro-Staggs advertising through the primary election.

So far, Wilson’s campaign has not benefited from any PAC support.

The limited public polling data available suggests Wilson has been unable to generate much public support since he entered the race last April. Last month, a survey conducted by a pro-John Curtis super PAC showed Wilson in third place behind Curtis and Staggs.

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Wilson has invested about $2.8 million of his own money in pursuit of the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mitt Romney, who is not seeking another term.

Wilson is scheduled to be on stage Monday, June 10, for a U.S. Senate debate sponsored by the Utah Debate Commission.

Help Utahns have access to trusted reporting this election year

The Salt Lake Tribune’s 2024 election coverage is free thanks to the generous support of donors. Give today to help continue this critical reporting.