Lockhart Tops in Campaign Cash Among Utah Lawmakers

While state Sen. John Valentine is the Senate king of campaign cash, it is House Speaker Becky Lockhart who has the most money of any of the 104 Utah lawmakers, UtahPolicy found in a review of June financial reports filed by lawmakers.


As reported last week, Valentine, R-Orem, has considered running for higher office a number of times.

He never has. So his campaign cash reserve of $110,000 is understandable.

Lockhart is in the same boat – but appears more determined.

Utah’s first female speaker, Lockhart is clearly looking at challenging GOP Gov. Gary Herbert in 2016.

And as of June, between her PAC and her personal campaign committee, Lockhart has amassed $122,574 in cash, a review of public financial records by UtahPolicy shows.

However, she’ll need a lot more than that if she wants to compete with Herbert in the fundraising arena.

Herbert spent around $2 million in his 2012 re-election victory.

Still, $122,500 is a good start for Lockhart.

And while Lockhart is retiring the end of 2014, and won’t have the financial strength of being House speaker in her 2015 and 2016 fund raising efforts, she will still have two years to build her war chest.

Neither Herbert nor Lockhart have personal wealth, so they will have to raise their 2016 campaign funds themselves.

There are 75 House members compared to only 29 state senators.

And it has always been easier for senators to raise campaign money in Utah – in part because all lobbyists know if you want to kill a bill you do it in the Senate, where you only need 15 votes.

So it is cash wise smart to concentrate your political giving in the Senate.

Still, a few House members are doing OK in campaign fundraising, UtahPolicy found.

And it’s interesting that in a number of cases, there may be desires other than winning your next House general election race to the fundraising.

UtahPolicy also found there are a few House incumbents who actually OWE money in their campaign accounts.

Here are a few interesting examples UtahPolicy found in reviewing all 75 House incumbents’ June financial filings:

— Second to Lockhart’s PAC and personal campaign war chest, the biggest House fundraiser is Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville.

He has $75,204 in cash.

There is no real re-election worries for Dunnigan. He’s in a safe GOP district.

But, as UtahPolicy reported Tuesday morning, Dunnigan is looking to run for House majority leader after the November general election.

And it’s become a tradition in the House that would-be leaders give money to their House GOP colleagues’ campaigns, hoping for a leadership vote in return.

It is especially smart to give money to non-incumbent candidates who are likely to join the leadership voting a few days after they win their seats.

Dunnigan has raised $92,118 so far this year. That’s a lot of money for a House member who is safe in his district. (He carried over $80,000 from his last campaign.)

He’s spent $17,000. So far Dunnigan has not donated to other candidates’ campaigns.

— House Assistant Majority Whip Don Ipson, R-St. George, has $36,600 in cash. He, also, is in a safe GOP seat.

Ipson has let it be known that he’s running for House majority leader, and will face Dunnigan (and perhaps others) in that contest.

— Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, a newbie to the Legislature who was appointed late last year, has already raised $34,000. He has $27,000 in cash.

But while Spendlove is new to the House, he’s not new to state politics – he’s served as a top aide to the last two GOP governors.

And he knows who to tap – i.e. lobbyists and special interest groups – to get his campaign cash. Most of his money comes from individuals or groups who will have business before lawmakers.

— Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, has $16,500 in cash, and has raised $35,000 this year. Again, he is in a safe GOP seat, and is mentioned as one looking to run for assistant majority leader.

An interesting tidbit: Wilson gave Spendlove $1,000 with a note saying it’s “paying back a loan.”

— Also in the “If we need cash, we have it” category, House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, and House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, are both going to run for speaker after the November general election.

Dee has $60,000 in cash and has raised $92,300 this year. He’s already given thousands of dollars to 16 House candidates’ campaigns, both incumbents and non-incumbents.

Hughes has only $15,000 in cash. But Hughes had a GOP challenger whom he took out in the state convention. Hughes raised $65,300 this year and has already spent $50,000.

Hughes has donated just $500 to one candidate.

Finally, there are several House members whose campaigns are basically broke, or actually owe money.

— Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, reports that his campaign is $13,071 in the red. Twelve thousand of that debt comes from his 2012 campaign, his first.

— Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, owes $8,500 to his campaign account – again, much of that is debt run up in previous elections.

The debts of both men may well be owed to themselves, since they loaned their campaigns personal funds in the past.

— Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, reports his campaign is $49.47 in the red.

If you see Anderegg in Capitol hallways, maybe you can slip him a $20.

And while not in the red, some other House members’ campaigns are basically broke.

— Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, in a safe Democratic district, reports she has $11.75 in her account.

— Others with small cash reserves include: Reps. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, $677; David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, $921; Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, $647; and Ed Redd, R-Logan, $387.

Several years ago lawmakers tightened up on where campaign cash reserves can go when lawmakers leave office – basically saying lawmakers can’t just give the money to themselves, as they could in the past.

Congratulations to retiring Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, a veterinarian. He paid off all his bills and then gave $15,000 to Utah State University for scholarships; USU is starting a new veterinarian degree program.