Republican Orrin Hatch is outspending Democrat Brian Moss 25-1 in their race for U.S. senator, yet Hatch's campaign budget is still $1.5 million less than when he faced Ted Wilson in 1982.
Hatch is proud of his fund-raising efforts; Moss thinks it's a travesty.In the candidates' first face-to-face debate, Sunday on KUTV's "Take 2," Hatch said his campaign has raised $3 million from 30,000 contributors, most of whom have contributed less than $75.
"And we're proud of it," he said. "I have no other way of running other than to run the hardest I can. I don't take anything for granted. I think there's something right with the system when you have to go out and raise money - and you raise it in accordance with the support people have for you."
Moss disagrees. The system, he said, "is bad, very bad."
"The idea is that the good men and women stand before the electorate, discuss the issues and allow the electorate to make a choice between the two of them," he said. "It doesn't say that the one in office should have an inherited advantage, but the money system is like that.
"Incumbents, whether Republican or Democratic, collect an enormous amount of money, and those who challenge them have a very difficult time raising money. And money and this machine (television) ultimately make the difference in an election."
Moss trails Hatch by 30 points in the polls and has raised only $128,000.
"I think it's hard to raise money when a candidate is down in the polls, and it takes money to raise money," said Moss' campaign manager, Lynne Van Dam. "Hatch has garnered a lot of money from special-interest groups, for example alcohol and tobacco interests, to whom he becomes subject to pleasing."
Hatch, who says some Democratic opponents are outraising Republican incumbents this year, is adamant that the current system is "far better than what the Democrats want back in Washington. They want the taxpayers to fund elections, and I think that's wrong."
But Moss wants limits on campaigning spending to allow more poor people to run for offices instead of just the wealthy.
Specifically, he wants a cap on what a candidate can spend and on how much an individual can contribute. "And I want to get rid of the PACs (political action committees) because I think they are destroying our political system."
"It's a very unbalanced, uneven system when 98 percent of all incumbents seeking re-election to the House of Representatives win re-election," he said. "That is not democracy."
Hatch isn't buying Moss' argument.
The incumbent senator began campaigning for re-election two years ago, and since has spent about $1 million staffing the campaign; $1 million on media in one form or another and more than $1 million fund raising, according to his campaign manager Bud Scruggs.
Of the $3 million, Scruggs said several thousand dollars were spent developing a direct mail list and a voter identification program that won't be used. A lot of money also went to produce television ads that won't run as often as Scruggs had originally planned.
Hatch spent $4.2 million in his 1982 campaign against Wilson.
"I anticipate that if we would have had a Ted Wilson-like opponent, we would have spent $5 million instead of $3 million this campaign," Scruggs said.
Throughout the campaign much of Hatch's fund raising was done outside Utah.
"With Jim Hansen having to face Gunn McKay again, with Snelgrove trying to mount a campaign against Owens, and the Bangerter-Wilson-Cook being what it was, we just didn't feel like in good conscience we could be holding $500-a-plate dinners here," Scruggs said. "We have had to spend a lot more money to raise funds through direct mail outside the state and through events in Washington that cost more."