Follow the Money

Obama Leads the Money Race in GOP Utah

Utah Republicans often say they live in the most Republican state in the country. No Democrat holds statewide office and the Democratic caucus in the state Senate is so small it could meet in a minivan.

But when it comes to money, Utahns are spending more on Democrat Barack Obama than on Republican John McCain.

A Salt Lake Tribune analysis of the state's campaign contributions shows that Obama raised $1.672 million in Utah through October 15. That tops McCain's Utah take of $1.664 million.

The Tribune also found that "Obama has outraised McCain in Utah by nearly 7-to-1 since the start of September." That was Obama's biggest fundraising month by far. It's also the period when McCain stopped taking private funds and started using public funds. Tapping federal campaign funding shuts off direct private contributions. The Tribune's campaign fundraising calculations also include indirect contributions made to accounts used by party committees to support the candidates.

McCain is supported by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and a host of state leaders, but most Utahns are Mormons and most favored fellow Mormon Mitt Romney. Some blame McCain for Romney's primary departure. McCain was also the Senate's most vocal critic of federal spending on the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Romney led the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee. And as chairman of the Commerce Committee, McCain held Senate hearings into the bidding scandal that brought shame to the Salt Lake Games.

Like all red states, Utah has its concentrations of blue. Obama's biggest bucks come from Salt Lake City, a Utah haven for Democrats, and the ski resort community of Park City, where Hollywood stars, producers and directors have second homes, along with wealthy skiing liberals from all over the country.

Obama's surprising success in Utah has state party leaders dreaming of earth-shattering change. But they should consider favorite son Romney and his fundraising prowess in the state. Romney raised $5.5 million through last February, more than the two nominees combined. And the money didn't stop flowing after Romney dropped out of the race. The Tribune analysis shows that Utahns have sent another $243,000 in contributions since then for Romney's Free and Strong America political action committee.

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