OREM — The large slate of Democrats challenging the Republican chokehold on Utah County seats in the state Legislature this year is doing better on the fundraising trail.

Six of the 11 Democrats who will be on the November ballot have out-raised the Republican incumbents they are challenging, according to financial disclosures released by the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Not only do the Democrats have more money than the Republicans, they have more donors.

Three times more donors have given to Democrats than Republicans so far.

"Democratic candidates are appealing to average people who want change," Utah County Democratic Party chairman Richard Davis said. "They know our candidates will bring better schools, ethics reform and managed growth that preserves neighborhoods."

The Republicans have noticed. At Saturday's Utah County Republican Convention, the county GOP chairwoman, Marian Monnahan, urged party members to stick together.

"We do have some Democratic challengers who are fairly credible and well-known in the community," Monnahan said, "and we must maintain our Republican status."

U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, also called Utah Valley Republicans to action.

"We always know that whatever difficulty we have in other counties that Utah County will come through with (huge) margins for Republicans," Bennett said. "It's your responsibility to do it again."

The leading fundraiser among the Democrats is Paul Thompson, a former Brigham Young University administrator and former president of Weber State University, who has raised more than $14,000.

Thompson is challenging Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, who has $1,000 in donations.

Former Alpine School District Superintendent Steve Baugh has raised $13,600 in his race against Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.

Baugh's largest donor is Cedar Hills resident Wayne Crabbe, who gave $2,500. Crabbe has said he is tired of one-party rule in Utah Valley.

Sandstrom has raised $7,250, with $5,000 coming from his company, Sandstrom & Associates Architecture.

Sandstrom also has $1,000 from the Challenger School in Sandy and $250 each from the legal firms of Siegfried and Jensen and Robert J. DeBry & Associates.

Four other Democrats have fundraising leads over Republican incumbents.

In House District 60, Boyd McAffee has raised nearly $2,800 to Republican Brad Daw's $1,650.

Don Jarvis has pulled in $7,300 to $250 for Rep. Steve Clark, R-Provo, in House District 62. Jarvis got $3,000 from Janelle Jarvis.

Boyd Peterson has a $8,200 to $5,200 edge over Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, in House District 64. Peterson got $5,000 from John Beck of Phoenix, Ariz.

All of Lockhart's money is from PACs and corporations like Civil Science in Lehi, $1,000, Comcast, EnergySolutions, ATK Launch Systems, Monsanto, Medco Health Systems and Imagine Learning.

Ken Peay leads Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, $3,500 to $2,600. Madsen began the election cycle with that money left over from his last race.

"This is a sign of major disenchantment with the status quo," Davis said in a prepared statement. "Putting up money to support these challengers really shows people are willing to support who they believe in."

"Congratulations," Monnahan said Tuesday. "If they've done that, good for them. I don't think our candidates have really started yet."

In fact, Republican incumbents also faced a large slate of intra-party challengers. That precluded the party from giving money to its candidates until Saturday's GOP convention did away with all party battles. With no primaries to worry about, the party now can begin to distribute a war chest that could be in excess of $100,000.

"We have enough to give our candidates a goodly amount of money," said Monnahan, declining to reveal the exact number.

Davis believed strong early fundraising provided the Democrats with needed credibility.

"The media, donors, voters and activists take a candidate more seriously when they start to see a serious fundraising effort," he said.

The Utah County Democratic Party Convention is scheduled to begin Saturday at 9 a.m. at Dixon Middle School, 750 W. 200 North, Provo.

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