GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has spent a whole lot of campaign cash. His Democratic challenger, Bob Springmeyer, hasn't, the latest campaign financial filings show.
Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who may need extra money this year as he literally is hobbled in his personal campaigning efforts following serious leg surgery, has been raising and spending big chunks of campaign money, too.
And there are few financially competitive legislative races so far in 2008, with one Senate or House candidate raising much more money than his competition, a Deseret News analysis of the latest filings shows.
Filings had to meet a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline in the state elections office, or the tardy candidate could have his name removed from November's ballot. Those who didn't file, and are probably out of their races, are: Robert Armstrong, a Constitution Party candidate in Senate District 27; Melvin Robinson, a Democrat in House District 18; and Ted Heap, a state school board candidate in District 11.
Huntsman has raised $447,130 so far in 2008, spent $394,066 and has $55,898 in cash. That isn't a lot of cash for a governor's re-election bid with only two months before Election Day. And Huntsman has drained his own PAC. In fact, this year alone, Huntsman has transferred $224,629 from his PAC to his campaign account, leaving just over $7,000 in his PAC.
But Huntsman has proven himself a more-than-adequate fundraiser in the past. Greg Hartley, Huntsman's campaign manager, said the governor plans on spending between $800,000 and $900,000 this year on his re-election.
Springmeyer, trailing Huntsman badly in the public opinion polls, has $15,323 in cash. Springmeyer was in Denver last week at the Democratic National Convention making contacts he hopes will result in some campaign cash before November's election.
"We have just enough money to make our first media buy," Springmeyer said Tuesday. Overall, he's raised $45,400 and spent $32,778 numbers that pale next to Huntsman's. "But we're doing well, we're moving along," said Springmeyer.
Shurtleff has raised $346,409 this year and spent $387,204. He has $241,469 in cash. His Democratic opponent, Jean Welch Hill, has raised $45,339, spent $29,312, and has only $16,026 in cash, or just 6.6 percent of what Shurtleff has.
Five different groups gave donations of $20,000 each to Shurtleff during the last reporting period. They were: Siegfried & Jensen (a law firm); 1-800-CONTACTS (which sells contact lenses); USANA (which makes dietary supplements); Pre-Paid Legal Services of Ada, Okla.; and The Tax Club of New York City.
It used to be that gubernatorial candidates raised the most cash in Utah state races. But House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, who won in 2006 by just 20 votes and faces a tough re-election battle again, has really been beating the bushes the past few years. Between his PAC and campaign account, Curtis has around $365,000 in cash, filings show.
A number of Senate and House Republicans who voted for the controversial private school voucher bill in the 2007 Legislature found themselves on the wrong side of that vote in last November's voucher referendum. One of those is Curtis, who championed vouchers in 2007 only to find his District 49 constituents in southeast Salt Lake County voting against vouchers 62-38 percent, a tabulation by the Utah Education Association shows.
Curtis got nearly $5,500 this June in an in-kind donation, in the form of voter lists and telephoning, from the main pro-voucher PAC, Parents For Choice in Education. Clearly he will try to get those pro-voucher people (the 38 percent in his district) out to vote for him in two months.
Curtis said he's raising extra funds he won't spend anywhere near all of it on his race this year to run for higher office some day. "A lot of people are looking at the governor's race in 2012. I'm younger than they are, so I can be patient" and pick a race he really likes down the road, the speaker said.
Curtis, who seeks another term as speaker from his GOP caucus, said he will likely give other House Republican candidates around $25,000 out of his PAC.
Leaders in both parties often help out their party incumbents or likely winners in the hopes that they, in turn, will vote for them in leadership races held just after the November general election.
Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, is not that far behind Curtis in fundraising. Valentine, who did not have a serious challenger this year, neither within nor outside his Republican Party, has $166,000 in cash on hand, his campaign filing showed. Unlike Curtis, Valentine doesn't have a PAC under just his name, although he helps raise money for a Utah County political PAC.
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, also has a tough re-election fight this year. Buttars made headlines during the 2008 Legislature when he called a school board bill a dark, ugly baby leading some to say he made a racist comment. The Salt Lake chapter of the NAACP called for Buttars to resign. Buttars denied his comment was racist, apologized, and filed for re-election.
Buttars' political problems are reflected in his fundraising, where he has gotten most of his money from fellow GOP senators and/or PACs. He's raised $27,380, spent $66,196 through a tough convention fight, and still has $38,160 in cash, the report shows.
However, Buttars' Democratic challenger, John Rendell, has far out-raised Buttars this year. Buttars is in such good financial shape because he carried over $76,977 from 2007 raised before his general session gaffe.
Buttars has gotten $10,000 from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee the Senate Republicans' PAC; $5,000 from the Utah County Legislative PAC (overseen by Valentine; Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo; and Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo); and $5,000 from Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, (who is reportedly in a close leadership race with Bramble).
Rendell has raised $45,708 so far this year and has $21,436 in cash on hand.
Raising large sums of cash in legislative races not only discourages any challenger, since Utah law allows campaign cash to be used for any legal purpose even just giving it to yourself large cash reserves can be used to run for higher office some day or reimburse officeholders for out-of-pocket expenses lost in the low-pay Legislature.
Most legislative races are not close in financial resources. For example, analysis by the Deseret News shows that the average incumbent raised about twice as much as the average challenger this year and had about five times as much money on hand (thanks to donations raised in previous years).
Incumbents averaged about $16,000 in donations this year, compared to about $8,500 for challengers. In cash on hand, incumbents averaged about $23,200 compared to $4,200 for challengers.
Following are a few races that bucked such trends and are relatively close in cash on hand:
House District 5: Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan, ($3,847 cash on hand) vs. Democrat Suzanne Marychild ($4,178).
House District 29: Rep. Janice Fisher, D-Salt Lake, ($3,328 cash on hand) vs. Republican Phil Conder ($6,701) a rare case of a challenger having more money than an incumbent.
House District 36: Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake, ($7,156 cash on hand) vs. Republican Drew Quinn ($7,195).
House District 47: Rep. Steven Mascaro, R-West Jordan, ($5,680 cash on hand) vs. Democrat Jennifer Wolfe ($7,535) another case of a challenger with more than an incumbent.
House District 51: Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, ($11,140 cash on hand) vs. Democrat Lisa Johnson ($10,971).
House District 58: Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, ($20,127 cash on hand) vs. Democrat Steve Baugh ($22,401), another case of a challenger with more than an incumbent.House District 59: Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, ($7,117 cash on hand) vs. Democrat Paul Thompson ($10,861), another case with a challenger with more than an incumbent.