SALT LAKE CITY — Democrat Doug Owens, already lagging behind Republican Mia Love in raising money for the 4th District congressional race, now has a new campaign manager.
"It's not a big hiccup in my mind," Owens said of replacing campaign coordinator Emily Hollingshead with Carey Frary, who's from Illinois and ran a 2008 congressional campaign in Wisconsin.
Both Owens and Hollingshead acknowledge they differed on the direction of the campaign. Owens, the son of the late Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, faces an opponent who nearly beat retiring Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, in 2012.
"It wasn't necessarily on strategy as it was on nuts and bolts things," said Hollingshead, adding that she is now working on several Democratic races for the state Legislature.
Owens said hiring a campaign manager who is new to Utah won't change his message that he is the better choice to represent the state's values than Love, a former Saratoga Springs mayor.
"I'm the one who's the candidate. I'm the one with Utah values. She's good at running a campaign," Owens said of Frary. "I really felt to move the campaign forward, I needed to get someone with more experience."
Frary said Owens will continue "highlighting some pretty stark and signficant differences between the two candidates," a strategy that has been labeled negative by Love's supporters.
Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, a former state GOP chairman who ran Sen. Orrin Hatch's successful re-election bid two years ago, said it's clear there were disagreements over how the Owens campaign should be run.
"I've never known a campaign that was running smoothly that had a change, put it that way," Hansen said.
He said the tone of the Owens campaign has surprised him and "was not a good strategy for them."
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said it's still early in the race, but the combination of bringing in a new campaign manager at this point and being behind in fundraising "are not great news" for Owens.
"Generally, with campaign managers, you don't want to see very much turnover in that position. That's sort of the heart of the campaign," he said. "If you've got changes in your campaign manager, that's always hard on a campaign."
Burbank said it's no surprise that the latest financial disclosures from the two campaigns show a big advantage for Love over Owens.
"He's running against someone who has run previously, and he's running against someone who can not only raise money in the state but outside the state as well," Burbank said.
Love raised nearly $747,000 from April through June, while Owens collected almost $161,600. Love is also spending much more than her opponent, more than $505,000 compared with nearly $70,000 for Owens.
In their quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission, Love reported having just under $873,000 in cash on hand, and Owens said he had nearly $210,000 available.
"It still takes us a lot of money to raise money," Hansen said, including putting together lists of new donors from both in and out of state and sending out solicitations for campaign cash.
Now, though, the campaign is shifting from "prospecting" for new donors to hitting up those who give for additional contributions, he said, declining to be specific about the types of voters Love is targeting.
"I wouldn't say necessarily tea party lists," Hansen said of the contributor base put together starting last year. "It's just a combination of groups and individuals who are most likely to give to a candidate like Mia."8 comments on this story
Owens said much of Love's money is coming from out of state.
"We're going to be outspent. I don't worry about that, per se," he said, noting this is his first bid for office against an opponent who never stopped running. "I feel like we have enough to be competitive."
The Democrat made the first ad buy in the race, purchasing around $300,000 in local television time on network and cable stations to air commercials this fall. Love has now also bought airtime beginning in September.
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