PROVO David Leavitt continued to raise large amounts of money in the final quarter of 2007 in his bid to unseat Congressman Chris Cannon at the Republican convention in May or in a possible party primary in June.
Leavitt also started to spend his money.
During the third quarter, the former Juab County attorney appeared to hoard cash, raising $110,000 and spending just $15,000. In the fourth quarter, he reversed course, raising another $82,000 but spending nearly $118,000, almost double the combined spending of the other three candidates.
"We have a fairly well-thought out, and what we hope to be a well-executed, campaign game plan that always had us starting our process in the fourth quarter," said Leavitt, younger brother of former Utah governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.
Cannon raised $64,000 in the final quarter of 2007 and had $52,000 on hand at year's end. The first man to announce he would challenge the six-term congressman, Gov. Jon Huntsman's former chief of staff Jason Chaffetz, raised $20,000 and had $43,000 on hand.
The latest entry to the race, Joe Ferguson, did not announce his candidacy until after the start of the new year, so he was not required by the Federal Elections Commission to file a campaign finance disclosure. Ferguson said Thursday that he spent about $3,000 in January. His fundraising activities include selling books like "The Naked Capitalist," by Cleon Skousen, "The Creature from Jekyll Island," by Ed Griffin and "The Late, Great USA," by Jim Corsi. Book sales at the annual Eagle Forum state convention on Jan. 19 raised more than $1,500.
"David's got the money," Ferguson said, "but I've got the message. The main thing is to raise enough money to get my message out there."
Leavitt's spending has been invisible to most residents of Utah's 3rd Congressional District, unless they were among those who got a Christmas card from him. The rest of the cash has gone into lobbying a select number of people the more than 1,000 delegates who will make or break his campaign at the Utah Republican convention in May.
Of course, Cannon, Chaffetz and Ferguson are focused on the same group but spent less. Cannon expended $52,000 in the final quarter of '07, and Chaffetz doled out $13,000.
Leavitt spent $14,000 to purchase a used 2005 Buick Regal for campaign use. He said an analysis showed it would be cheaper to buy the car and sell it at the end of the campaign than to pay mileage to campaign workers traveling the district, which stretches from West Valley City to Beaver.
The rest of the money has bought pie, Leavitt said, for the groups of 10 to 20 delegates he meets with three to four nights a week, and for mailers and phone calls focused on the delegates.
Leavitt said his numbers are inflated because he owns much of the campaign's office space, which he has to count as an expense. That accounts for most of the $25,000 he is listed as giving to his campaign. Cannon and Chaffetz have not used any of their own money or assets on the race.
Chaffetz has now raised a total of $65,000, the vast majority coming from individuals. Chaffetz said his more modest numbers are intentional.
"In January of '07, I laid out a budget for my campaign. I'm ahead of schedule in terms of money raised," he said. "I'm running as a fiscal conservative. I'm going to spend a fraction of what my two opponents are going to spend. Undoubtedly, those guys are the big spenders. That's my point."
Cannon has raised nearly $350,000 in this election cycle, but most of that has been spent paying debts from past campaigns. He still had another $180,000 in obligations at the end of the fourth quarter, but most of that nearly $140,000 is money he owed himself for loans to past campaigns. The rest is owed to different advertising and polling companies.
Cannon's fundraising in the fourth quarter was done nearly exclusively out of state. Of the $64,000 heCannon raised, about $6,000 came from Utah and $49,000 came from PACs. One check fit both categories, a $5,000 contribution from ORRINPAC, the political action committee of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.Leavitt and Chaffetz believe the longtime conventional wisdom that the best way to oust Cannon is to defeat him at the convention by earning 60 percent or more of the votes from delegates.
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