Republican Genevieve Atwood has accomplished her mission to convince the national Republican hierarchy that she can win against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.
After her meeting Wednesday with National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., he issued a statement calling Atwood "one of the top Republican congressional candidates in the country."He also presented her with a $5,000 check, saying it "shows the Republican Party's commitment to your campaign" since it is the maximum direct cash contribution his committee can make by law.
He added that Atwood's race against Owens "is one of the top races in the nation. Because of Genevieve Atwood, this is one of the national Republican Party's priority races. We look forward to working with the campaign."
The NRCC is an arm of the National Republican Party that coordinates party efforts in House races. Private political action committees often seek its guidance about where money or other resources are most needed.
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, Democratic Party Chairman Peter Billing Jr. said if Atwood receives $150,000 from the NRCC, as she said last week she wanted, that such a contribution would be a violation of federal election laws.
Billings said national parties legally can give only about $70,000 to congressional races in cash and in-kind support services. He added that he believes Atwood - in her first federal race - may have been mistaken in saying the NRCC could give her $150,000. But Billings added that in 1986, Republican Tom Shimizu's campaign got, through the state GOP, more money from the national party than was allowed by law in his race against Owens. The State Republican Party had to pay a $10,000 fine for that violation. Billings said he doesn't want Republicans to "cheat" again.
Atwood said earlier this week that some people at the NRCC had been strong supporters of former Rep. Dan Marriott, whom she beat in the Republican primary, which made her fund raising difficult.
Doug Sosnick, the political director at the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, went so far as to say, "For the past year and a half, they (the RNCC) have been putting out the message across the state and nation that they recruited Dan Marriott and he could win against Owens. But Atwood beat him.
"Now they have to go back and re-educate people about Atwood. That makes the job more difficult, especially at this point. Educating PACs is a slow process," Sosnick said.
Atwood said earlier this week, "Yes, I think some people at the NRCC were firmly entrenched for Dan. The RNCC knew Dan, and Dan had done a good job working on them. Dan had talked of running a million-dollar campaign, we had not. . .. But I have the impression once they get on board, things will be fine. That is my mission this week."
Atwood has scheduled a press conference for Thursday evening to give a final report on other meetings this week with Republican leaders. She also has a fund-raiser planned Thursday night, to be hosted by the other Republican members of Utah's delegation.