Republican Jon Huntsman will personally repay all campaign contributions made to his monthlong gubernatorial effort, campaign aides said Thursday.
Jon Huntsman Jr., co-director of his father's campaign, and Lillian Garrett, campaign manager, said Huntsman will pay the estimated $200,000 the campaign spent between March 15 and April 13. The campaign officially closed down earlier this week.Huntsman shocked the GOP establishment when he announced March 15 that he would challenge Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter for the GOP gubernatorial nomination this year. Polls taken after the announcement showed Huntsman leading Bangerter in a head-to-head race.
Huntsman immediately organized a campaign staff, rented downtown offices and started production of TV spots. He loaned the campaign $100,000 to get it started, but planned on having that repaid later.
He got out of the race April 13, saying his candidacy was splitting the Republican Party and newly developed business opportunities demanded his full attention.
Huntsman is president and chairman of Huntsman Chemical Corp., the largest privately held chemical company in America. A multi-millionaire, Huntsman has long been active in Republican politics, both in Utah and nationally, but had never sought election before.
"We were very gratified by the number and size of the unsolicited contributions we received. More than 100 people sent us checks," said Garrett. "All the money will be returned, without question."
Huntsman will pick up the campaign's tab, said young Huntsman and Garrett. Now that he is no longer in the race, Huntsman doesn't feel bound by his previous pledge not to spend any of his own money on the campaign and he doesn't want supporters financially harmed by his withdrawal.
Huntsman had planned on spending more than $260,000 on early TV spots. He withdrew even as the ads were running. "We prepaid $118,000 to the four TV stations. We're negotiating now with them and we think we'll get a bit of that back," said Garrett, leaving about $100,000 spent on TV. The rest of the ad time was canceled.
Campaign co-director John Romney said before Huntsman withdrew from the race he was well on the way to a successful GOP convention challenge to Bangerter. A video had been prepared to be shown in Monday night's GOP caucuses (Bangerter will still show his video to those who attend). "We had 838 delegates lined up to run in the caucuses," said Romney. That is 87 delegates more than the 751 needed to ensure a primary election against Bangerter. "We would have gotten out of the convention, that's for sure," Romney said.