Political expert examines fundraising in Utah’s congressional races

Posted at 10:20 PM, Oct 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-17 00:20:32-04

UTAH -- It is the most expensive congressional campaign of the political season. Nearly $5 million has been raised between Mia Love and Doug Owens in the 4th Congressional District race. The majority of the money has gone to Love, but does it guarantee a win?

"Money is the mother's milk for politics, but it's no guarantee," said Professor Tim Chambless of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Sometimes no matter what the polls say, no can really predict who will win, especially in the state's most hotly contested race. But money certainly plays a critical role in politics.

"Mia Love has been able to attract dollars because she is experienced and she is unique," Chambless said.

Supporters are throwing big money behind Love. So far, the Republican has managed to raise more than $4.35 million. Most of the money, more than $3.9 million, came from individual donors, not Super PACS like the last election in 2012. Her opponent, Democrat Doug Owens, has brought in $294,470.

"The polling clearly indicates the Republicans have the advantage," Chambless said.

Is it, however, safe to assume every Republican candidate running in the congressional races will score a seat in Washington D.C.?

In the 1st District race, the incumbent Republican Rob Bishop has raised more money than Democrat Donna McAleer. Bishop raised $303,470 while McAleer has $153,436.

"The First District could be quite close with Donna McAleer, she's a qualified candidate," Chambless said.

Representative Chris Stewart has also raised more money than his Democratic opponent, Luz Robles. The Republican incumbent has raised $691,841. Robles, who is a State Senator in the Utah legislature, has brought in $133,395.

"It's never over until it's over,"Chambless said.

Except in the case of Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz versus political newcomer Democrat Brian Wonnacott. Rep. Chaffetz has raised $853,635 for his campaign, but Wonnacott, who was the last-minute Democratic candidate, hasn't raised any money for his campaign according to FEC filings.

"Some might say he's a sacrificial lamb," Chambless said. "He's done his best to try to make this experiment in democracy work. It's been a tough campaign for him. I would say the Democratic Party should be criticized for not working harder to get a candidate to run."

Political analysts says the 4th District race has been targeted by the National Republican Party because Love would be the first black Republican Congresswoman if elected, and that is significant for a political party that's trying to diversify itself.