Huntsman and Romney dash for cash

Published: Monday, June 27 2011 10:13 p.m. MDT

John Weaver, Huntsman's chief strategist, told the Washington Post last week that the community of wealthy and influential Mormon families who gave to Romney in 2008 will now be split. Several insiders told the Post that Huntsman and his supporters have been calling Romney donors and asking them to give to Huntsman as well. "People who know both of them have a high regard for both of them," Joel C. Peterson, a Utah-based venture capitalist and JetBlue Airways chairmam told the paper. "At some point they'll have to choose."

Some have already made their choice. Billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., for example, served as one of Romney's national finance chairmen during 2007-08, but now his political ties with the former Olympics boss are severed as his son and namesake competes for the same office as Romney. Salt Lake City attorney and businessman Lew Cramer is another prominent Utahn who left Romney's camp for Huntsman.

"Raising money for Gov. Huntsman is a lot easier than I thought it'd be," said Cramer, who serves on Huntsman's national finance committee. "He's an extremely popular governor here — his policies and his ideas and his internationalism are in sync with what people want to support. … I've been extremely successful making (fundraising) phone calls for him. It's really interesting where this is going to go."

"At first I thought that Mitt had probably already gone around and vacuumed up all the money there was," Cramer said. "But I guess my lesson is, there's a lot more political support in this state for candidates than there was 4-5 years ago. I give Mitt full credit for that, making people realize that if you're going to participate in politics it takes money to make that happen. That's going to help Mitt of course, but it's also going to help Gov. Huntsman."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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