Political unknown raises more than $400K to challenge Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz in 2018

Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 11, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- More than a year and a half away from the election, a local doctor is giving Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz a run for his money.

Dr. Kathryn Allen has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in just days—an unprecedented pace for a Utah Democrat.

Up until now, Dr. Allen was pretty much unknown in Utah’s political world. She’s a physician with 30 years of professional experience, Dr. Allen states on her fundraising website.

Right now, Dr. Allen works as a private doctor at the Utah Transit Authority clinic. But in the course of a week, she’s gained notoriety beyond Utah, and her campaign against Chaffetz has gone national.

“It's been a whirlwind,” Dr. Allen said.

Donations from the fundraising page average around $36 per person.

Multiply that by more than 11,600 donors, and it equals more than $425,000. Many of those donations don’t come from Utah, or District 3 voters, Dr. Allen admitted.

“It's true that the contributions have come from all over the United States,” she said during a FaceTime interview on Saturday.

That’s because she said a few recent events have led to a widespread dislike of the Congressman.

Chaffetz has certainly taken some public heat lately, from an anger-filled town hall that led to boos and protests in Cottonwood Heights, to controversial remarks on CNN.

“Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care,” Chaffetz said, during that CNN interview.

While Dr. Allen kicked off what she called an “exploratory” campaign in February and brought in a little money, she said it wasn’t until recently that her fundraiser began to grow in popularity.

After a few key tweets from Allen exploded on Twitter, she said the fundraising website hosting her campaign began to attract notice, and the donations flooded in.

“I've just been kind of riding this wave since then,” she said. “I raised so much money that on Tuesday I had to file my [Federal Election Commission] papers because it was obvious it was no longer an exploratory campaign.”

How much money? While the Crowdpac page listed $429,594 Saturday evening, Dr. Allen said she’s also collected more than $40,000 on a separate fundraising website—meaning her campaign has nearly $470,000 in the bank.

The last Democrat to take on Chaffetz, Stephen Tryon, only managed $63,406 during his entire campaign. Chaffetz raised $1.3 million during that same election.

In fact, Dr. Allen already has more than double what the last five Democrats trying to win District 3 brought in—combined.

“She's really setting up a great foundation for a campaign for next year,” said Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon.

He said it’s amazing to see her fundraising efforts already so successful.

But, will money from around the country translate into votes locally—where it matters?

“It`s still difficult for a Democrat to win,” Corroon said. “We have no grand illusions that money will automatically turn into votes. But, Dr. Allen is certainly a well-qualified candidate.”

Now that she has some funds to work with, Dr. Allen said she’ll think seriously about her platform and putting together her campaign.