GOP candidates for governor raising, and spending, big bucks ahead of primary election

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Just about everyone watching Utah’s GOP governor’s race says the June 30 closed party primary is the REAL election — the Republican nominee will coast to victory in November.

And the four candidates are raising and spending money NOW — with less than three weeks of campaigning left.

Some numbers:

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is leading the race in 2News poll by Y2 Analytics, since the mid-April state GOP convention financial report with the Utah Elections Office has raised an impressive $645,979. Back before the convention, Cox had $702,909 in cash. In total, Cox has raised over $2.1 million and has been campaigning and fundraising for over a year.

Now he’s clearly spent money over the last month, but he still likely has around $1 million to hit TV, radio and direct mail to win the nomination.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman has raised more than $1.38 million. A multi-millionaire himself — his father was a billionaire — Huntsman can donate likely millions of dollars to his campaign with writing a check.

He got $100,000 from Ocean Star International, which harvests brine shrimp from the Great Salt Lake.

His largest post-convention donation, $100,000, came from Barbara Barrington Jones, a philanthropist now active in Utah County and elsewhere.

Huntsman has raised just under $300,000 since the convention and probably has a half-million to spend between now and the primary election.

Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has raised overall just under $1 million. His pre-convention report shows he’d spent $471,200 by mid-April.

Since the convention Hughes has raised another $354,500; and he probably has around half-a-million dollars to spend before the primary.

Hughes has two very good friends/financial backers in this campaign. House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, a successful home builder, has given Hughes $325,000.

Former House leader Kevin Garn, a developer/hotel-owner, has also given Hughes $325,000. Together, they have given Hughes 65 percent of all the money he’s raised.

Former Utah GOP chairman and national committeeman Thomas Wright has raised in total $1.376 million. His pre-convention report shows he’s spent $771,958 as of mid-April, with $222,000 in cash. So Wright has around half-a-million to spend before the primary, also.

Wright picked U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, as his lieutenant governor running mate. Bishop is retiring this year, and under federal campaign rules can donate any amount from his congressional campaign committee to a state candidate — assuming the state has no donation limits, with Utah doesn’t.

Accordingly, Bishop has given the Wright/Bishop campaign $220,000.

Wright is a successful Realtor and has donated $300,000 personally to his campaign.

Wright is the brother-in-law of Fred Lampropoulos, a successful medical supply company owner — Merit Medical. Lampropoulos has donated $175,000 to the Wright campaign.

Other Realtor groups/individuals have donated to the Wright campaign, in total more than $250,000.