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Romney returns to stump in Utah

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 29 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Mitt Romney will be back in Utah Tuesday to raise money for his fellow Republicans around the country.

Tickets for the dinner at Little America featuring the former leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics are priced at $1,000. For $5,000, participants can also attend a VIP reception before the meal.

Romney will be introduced at the dinner by Gov. Gary Herbert, who is attending as a guest, according to Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling.

The money collected will go to Romney's "Free & Strong" political action committee that covers the cost of his appearances on behalf of Republican candidates as well as helping to fund their campaigns.

Some Utah Republicans have benefited from the PAC, according to Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. In April, Romney held a fundraiser in Salt Lake City for Sen. Bob Bennett through the PAC. And in 2008, the PAC contributed $2,300 to Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Also, Fehrnstrom said, Romney has signed fundraising letters for Chaffetz and failed GOP congressional candidate Bill Dew as well as a get-out-the-vote letter for the Utah Republican Party.

Fehrnstrom said another fundraising event for Bennett is planned for October and that Romney will also assist Herbert's run next year for the remainder of former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s term.

"Gov. Herbert is a good friend, and we expect to be helpful to his campaign," Fehrnstrom said.

As lieutenant governor, Herbert backed Romney's bid for the 2008 GOP nomination. Then-governor Huntsman, however, supported the party's nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Utah has been a good source of contributions for Romney. A member of the LDS Church like the majority of Utahns, he won the state's GOP presidential primary last year with an overwhelming 90 percent of the vote.

Thanks to his popularity here, Romney collected some $6 million from Utahns for his presidential race alone. His PAC has also been financially supported by Utahns, including a recent $1,000 donation by the Utah Bankers Association.

According to the most recent filing with the Federal Elections Committee, the PAC has collected more than $2.3 million for the 2010 election cycle and contributed more than $44,000 to candidates in California, South Carolina, Massachusetts and other states.

"Gov. Romney is focused on helping the Republican Party be successful in 2010," Fehrnstrom said. "As part of that effort, he is raising money for his PAC, which enables him to stay politically active on behalf of candidates."

Romney is also widely seen as a GOP challenger to Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012, although he has yet to announce another run for the White House.

e-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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