Some Republicans pushing for crossover vote against Matheson

Published: Wednesday, May 12 2010 1:42 a.m. MDT

Matheson has proven himself an excellent fundraiser and campaigner and has won re-election with increasing margins of victories in recent years.

The latest Federal Election Commission filings show Matheson has $1.4 million in campaign cash, compared to Wright's $3,850.

Philpot has $6,500 in cash but will be able to raise more now that he's the GOP nominee.

"Of course (Philpot) would rather face me, because he has more money than I do," Wright said, adding once she wins the Democratic nomination, she'll be a formidable candidate against Philpot "because he is so far to the right."

In previous races, Matheson has gotten an overwhelming percent of Democratic voters, 60 percent of independents and even 20 percent or more of Republicans, Jones has found.

"That won't happen this year," said Philpot, a conservative former state House member from Sandy and vice chairman of the state GOP before he resigned that post to run.

Forty-five percent of Democratic state delegates voted for Wright. "So a large base of his own party doesn't want him," Philpot said.

"And 90 percent of (conservative) Republicans are very disappointed in (Matheson's) voting record. I think we'll see a low turnout (in November) of the Democratic base, a large turnout in the GOP base," and both are good for him, Philpot said.

Matheson said he can, and will, keep his broad coalition together. Second District voters "look at the individual, not the party label," he said. "If they didn't, I wouldn't be here, because my district is 60 percent Republican, 20 percent Democratic and 20 percent independent."

Because of Matheson's popularity and relatively weak recent GOP opponents, the national Republican Party hasn't put much money into Utah's 2nd District contest. But Philpot said he has already had calls from the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee saying they will "be engaged" in his race this year.

The two national committees have put big bucks up against Matheson before: $300,000 in 2002 and $1 million in 2004. "They've been in Utah, and I'm always ready for them," he said.

Said Philpot, "If (the national GOP PACs) come in, I hope they will get some Utah advice. The last thing we need is negative campaigning, which I think will only hurt my campaign."

e-mail: bbjr@desnews.com; araymond@desnews.com

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