Utahns, get ready to open your checkbooks.
Mitt Romney is running for president again (almost for sure) and it’s likely he’ll be back in his adopted state to ask for cash. And ask for cash. And ask for cash.
In his failed 2008 run for the U.S. presidency Romney – who Utahns fell in love with when he basically saved the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics – pulled more than $5.5 million out of little ole Utah.
He raised more cash in only one other state – California.
According to the New York Times, Utah-based donations made up 10 percent of Romney’s total – including $40 million that the multi-millionaire donated to his own campaign.
Romney announced this week that he’s forming a formal exploratory committee. And that allows him to start raising campaign cash for a run for the GOP nomination in 2012.
Can a fund raising visit to Utah be far off?
He came here several times in 2007-2008 for just that purpose.
And, by the way, Romney won the Utah GOP presidential primary with nearly 90 percent of the vote.
Romney’s popularity here – he is a faithful member of the LDS Church – was astounding three years ago.
But Romney may not be the only adopted son on the GOP dais next year.
At the end of this month former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. – whose last name is equal to Romney’s – officially steps down as U.S. ambassador to China.
And it appears that Huntsman will be testing the 2012 presidential waters to some degree.
Huntsman raised over $4 million when he ran for the governorship the first time in 2004 and more than $2 million in his re-election in 2008. Most of that cash came from within Utah.
It usually takes a Republican several runs at the presidency to get the nomination – so say the experts.
Democrats are more likely to pick first-timers – like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush No. 1 all made runs for the presidency before they won their party’s nomination – and ultimately the White House.
Under that theory, Romney is ahead of Huntsman.
In any case, Utah – with six Electoral College votes in 2012 – isn’t a big player in the U.S. presidency race.
Except, maybe, when it comes to money.
And how much can Romney and Huntsman expect to pull out of Utah?
And with millions going back East to presidential campaigns, what does that leave for GOP Gov. Gary Herbert (who isn’t rich personally) and the U.S. Senate and House races next year?
Romney had a broad base of support in 2008. But Mormons were still a big part of that.
Now Huntsman can claim some of that LDS support.
Both have wonderful local credentials.
In recent times there have been Romneys and Haights (Huntsman’s maternal grandfather) in the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve.
Huntsman doesn’t wear his religion on his sleeve. He did serve an LDS mission as a young man (so did Romney). But Huntsman recently told an interviewer that he isn’t “overly religious.”
You don’t run a national presidential campaign from Utah. And Romney’s HQ is outside of Boston (he was Massachusetts governor for one term after the Olympics).
Huntsman recently bought a million-dollar home in Washington, D.C., and it appears he’s not moving back to Utah after his ambassadorship.
But expect both men, their spouses and children to be visiting Utah often over the next 18 months.
Still, can $4, $6, even $8 million come out of Utah for presidential races next year?
There’s some green here. And I’m not talking about the environment.