The old saying "more money than he knows what to do with" might apply to Sen. Orrin Hatch this year.
By the time the election is over, Hatch will have raised more than $3 million in his re-election effort. Hatch has raised almost $2 million since the first of the year, spent $2.1 million and has $726,347 in the bank, the latest Federal Election Commission reports ending Sept. 30 show. He's raised more than $430,000 from political action committees alone this year.Such a fund-raising effort doesn't now appear to have been needed. Hatch leads his Democratic challenger Brian Moss by 50 points in the polls.
Moss said recently that he's raised less than $150,000. At this rate, Hatch will outspend Moss 20-1.
Of course, Hatch was raising a considerable war chest last year when he still feared that former Democratic Gov. Scott M. Matheson might challenge him. But even after the April 15 candidate filing deadline, when Hatch knew that his opponent would be Moss, he still raised almost $600,000.
Hatch campaign manager Bud Scruggs said that after Moss was officially the candidate, Hatch decided not to hold any more fund-raisers in Utah. Hatch didn't want to draw money away from other Republican candidates. But he has conducted direct-mail fund raising in Utah since then and, of course, also solicits money from political action committees - PACs.
No other Utah candidate even comes close to Hatch's fund raising this year.
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, has raised $261,445 in defense of his 2nd Congressional District seat. His Republican challenger, Richard Snelgrove, hasn't filed his report.
Owens is raising and spending considerably less money this year than in his 1986 campaign. Then he spent more than $700,000,one of the most expensive House races in the nation.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has raised $220,496 in his battle against Democrat Gunn McKay in the 1st Congressional District. McKay has raised $225,157.
Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, traditionally doesn't need to raise a lot of money in that GOP-safe seat, and hasn't. As of Sept. 30, Nielson raised $72,008. His Democratic opponent, Robert Stringham, hasn't filed his report.
Hansen-McKay races have traditionally been bitter. Hansen unseated McKay in 1980. McKay came close to beating Hansen in 1986. Both men are on course to raise and spend more money this year than they did in 1986. That year, Hansen spent $372,000; McKay spent $236,000.
The 1st District race has something new this year in Utah politics, a considerable expenditure by an independent group on behalf of a candidate. The National Realtor PAC has spent upwards of $150,000 on Hansen's behalf - $118,000 to buy local TV and radio advertisements and the rest in ad production costs. The expenditure is completely legal, but doesn't show up on the candidate's FEC reports since the money isn't given directly to Hansen.
Hansen's campaign manager, Peter Jenks, called a press conference Thursday to lambaste McKay's considerable contributions from labor union PACs. Jenks said the $100,000 McKay has received from labor PACs "shows he is bought and paid for" by the unions.
In answering reporters' questions, Jenks steadfastly maintained that the realtor spending on Hansen's behalf doesn't mean Hansen is "bought and paid for."
"Jim votes his conscience first. (The realtors) like how he votes, and so support him. It's the other way around with McKay. He voted for big Eastern labor every chance he got when he was in Congress."
McKay spokesman Dave Dixon disagrees. "Gunn's contributions are very balanced. He gets money from working men and women, businessmen and individuals. Hansen gets $150,000 worth of advertising from the Realtors and he doesn't owe them? Come on."
Both Hansen and McKay say the money they get from PACs who support them, whether realtor or labor union, is really money from local, Utah members of those groups.