Which Republican has raised the most money to replace Sen. Mitt Romney?

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Republican candidates running to replace Sen. Mitt Romney raised and loaned themselves millions of dollars in the first three months of 2024.

Utah Rep. John Curtis led his opponents in campaign contributions. He raised nearly $1.4 million since swapping his House reelection bid for a U.S. Senate campaign in January, according to Federal Election Commission filings posted on Monday.

Curtis has raised a total of over $3 million this election cycle, including the cash he carried over from his 3rd Congressional District campaign coffers.

“This campaign is not about self-funded bids for office,” Curtis said in a statement. “It’s about listening, understanding, and then acting on the concerns of Utahns. ... Every dollar raised is a statement of trust and a commitment to mutual goals for our future.”

Curtis’ fundraising totals combine the money raised by the John Curtis for Utah committee and the Team Curtis Joint Fundraising Committee. Between the two committees, Curtis has spent over $1 million and has $1.6 million in cash on hand.

Former state House Speaker Brad Wilson reported $257,754 in campaign contributions received in the first quarter of the new year for a total of nearly $2 million this election cycle. Wilson’s campaign has spent $1.25 million and has more than $2 million in cash on hand going into the state convention on April 27.

“I’m very grateful to the Utahns who’ve stepped up in a big way and invested in my campaign,” Wilson said in a statement to the Desert News. “The support shows momentum is on our side and I look forward to continuing to spread our message and showing Utah why I’m the only conservative fighter who’s tested and trusted to stand for our values.”

Massive loans in the Utah Senate race

As one of the earliest to begin exploring a Senate campaign, Wilson led his opponents in fundraising at the end of 2023 with $1.7 million in contributions and a $1.8 million self-funded loan. On Monday, Wilson reported another $1 million loan he gave to his campaign, bringing total receipts by the campaign, including loans, to nearly $4.8 million.

Wilson, the CEO of Destination Homes, isn’t the only candidate to draw on independent wealth to fuel their Senate ambitions.

Moxie Pest Control CEO and political newcomer Jason Walton loaned his campaign $2.5 million, the FEC filings show. Since launching his campaign on Jan. 8, Walton has received an additional $256,757 in donations. The Friends of Jason Walton For Senate committee has spent more than $1.9 million and had more than $900,000 in reserves at the time of filing.

“Walton is a political outsider and the only conservative candidate who will have the resources necessary to take on the well-funded establishment career politicians in the race,” Walton campaign spokesperson Greg Powers told the Deseret News.

More money than normal in the Utah Senate race

The millions of dollars spent by candidates hoping to become Utah’s junior senator surpass “what we have historically observed,” Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, told the Deseret News.

“The influx of financial support shows the heightened stakes and competitive nature of this race,” Perry said. “This looks to be a very expensive race in the making.”

Perry said loans like the one Walton made to his campaign “are relatively uncommon but not unprecedented.” Whether Walton or Wilson see any of their loaned money return to their bank accounts depends on whether their campaigns receive strong fundraising totals in the future, Perry said.

“Strong fundraising is a tangible indicator of broad-based support and momentum and tends to be a good reflection of a candidate’s ability to mobilize resources,” Perry said. “Loans signal a candidate’s resources and personal commitment to their campaign, but do not really signal widespread support or viability.”

Who else is running for U.S. Senate in Utah?

The campaign of attorney Brent Hatch, the son of Utah’s longest serving senator, the late Orrin Hatch, has raised $237,370 since he entered the race in January. But the campaign has been able to spend $331,000 — with $906,026 left on hand — because of a nearly $1 million loan that was not made or guaranteed by Hatch.

“There are ample funds for ongoing campaign expenses,” the Hatch campaign said in a statement.

Hatch made another deadline on Monday — the last day to submit signatures to secure ballot access regardless of the outcome of the state convention.

Hatch campaign officials told the Deseret News they submitted their first batch of 28,000 signatures last week, with some “back-up” signatures submitted on Monday, with the hope they will have enough signatures certified by the state lieutenant governor’s office to qualify for the primary ballot in June.

Walton, Wilson and Curtis have all qualified for the Republican primary through signature gathering. Two candidates, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs and conservative political adviser Carolyn Phippen, refused the signature-gathering option and will place their primary hopes in the hands of convention delegates.

The Staggs campaign reported on Monday raising $197,952 this quarter, for a total of $894,403 since he became the first candidate to officially launch a Senate campaign in May 2023. The campaign has spent nearly $250,000 and has more than $450,000 cash in hand. Staggs, who previously served on the board of directors of Vivakor, an oil remediation company, loaned his campaign $90,000 last year.

“I’m honored to be supported by thousands of grassroots donors,” Staggs said. “We may not have the mega-donors and PACs, but knowing moms and dads, everyday Americans are giving because they believe like I do that the Senate needs an America First agenda that holds the government accountable.”

Staggs has courted the support of nationally recognized conservatives like Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who are known for their ability to mobilize small-dollar donations.

Phippen, Sen. Mike Lee’s former regional director and government affairs adviser, has raised $107,568 in the first three months of 2024 after raising nearly $68,500 since launching her campaign in November. She has spent $77,765 and has $27,934 cash on hand.

“I’m proud my campaign contributions have been purely funded directly by Utahns,” Phippen told the Deseret News in a statement. “Instead of shady back room deals and special interest groups pouring into my race, my campaign is marked by grassroots momentum.”

Election timeline

The Republican state convention will be held on April 27. Candidates who receive more than 40% of delegate votes, or who have gathered enough verified signatures, will appear on the primary ballot on June 25.

The GOP nominee who emerges from the primary will face off against the nominees from other registered political parties in the Nov. 5 general election.

Other Republican candidates, besides those already named, include certified public accountant Josh Randall, Bookroo founder Chandler Tanner, Abraham Lincoln impersonator Brian Jenkins and former piano tuner Jeremy Friedbaum.

The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Utah include mountaineer Caroline Gleich, Archie Williams III and Laird Hamblin.

Gleich has raised $389,535 since entering the race in January — the most first-quarter money raised by any Democratic candidate since former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson ran for Senate in 1982. Gleich has spent nearly $300,000 with more than $85,000 on hand. She has not received any loans.