SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Mia Love out-fundraised and outspent her Democratic opponent by a 5-to-1 margin over the past three months in a sign that she’s not easing up in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
Love brought in $1.47 million and spent $1.58 million as she amped up fundraising to levels she had not reached before, according to new figures from the Federal Election Commission.
Doug Owens, a Salt Lake City attorney making his first run for office, brought in $295,000 and spent nearly $315,000.
The two are competing to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat who has represented a right-leaning district for seven terms.
“She doesn’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Damon Cann, a political scientist at Utah State University. “In politics lots of crazy stuff can happen in the closing weeks of the election. She doesn’t want to risk losing by a few hundred votes again this time.”
Matheson narrowly defeated Love in 2012.
Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, is trying to become the first black female Republican ever to serve in Congress.
Her national name recognition and backing from Republicans across the country has been difficult for Owens to match. He hasn’t received the same backing from national Democrats, Cann said. As it is, Owens has raised far too little to be able to compete in a modern-day competitive congressional race, Cann said.
“If he had more resources, this would be a closer election,” Cann said.
Love’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, highlighted the fact she brought in contributions from 19,000 different donors, including nearly $700,000 in small donations of $200 or less. She raised about $100,000 during a closed-door fundraiser hosted by former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney earlier this month, Hansen said.
Her national support was on display in the report, too. She received $180,950 from political action committees and most of the donations larger than $200 came from out-of-staters.
“There’s obviously many people in Utah and around the country who want to see her serve in Congress,” Hansen said.
She spent aggressively on ads for TV, radio, online and billboards, as well as a heavy dose of direct mailers, said Hansen, who said that Love isn’t taking anything for granted after barely losing in her first attempt.
Owens has been up with TV ads, too, which accounted for most of his spending. The son of former Democratic U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens of Utah said the finance reports show that he’s the Utah-orientated candidate best suited to represent the district while Love is a party-line candidate with views too extreme for the state.
“Money matters to a point, and then the message matters, the person matters, the issues matter,” said Owens Thursday. “I’d certainly rather have more money than I do, but I do feel content that we enough to get the word out.”
Love ended the quarter with $772,600 in her account — compared to $189,500 for Owens.
The Love-Owens contest is the only Utah congressional race without an incumbent. In the other three races, the incumbents came in ahead of the challengers in fundraising.