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Mendenhall Rakes In $300K Ahead Of SLC Mayoral Election

Photo of 2019 Salt Lake City mayoral candidates Erin Mendenhall and Luz Escamilla .
Brian Albers and Renee Bright
Erin Mendenhall (left) and Luz Escamilla are vying for the Salt Lake City mayor's seat in the Nov. 5 election.

Salt Lake City mayoral hopeful Erin Mendenhall raised a whopping $301,347 in just under three months, overtaking her opponent Luz Escamilla in fundraising since the Aug.13 primary.

Since the most recent campaign finance reporting date on Aug. 6, Escamilla has raised $189,081.

Mendenhall has now raised the most — $422,656 since she announced her candidacy in April. Escamilla has raised a total of $395,741 since launching her campaign near the end of March.

The financial reports released Tuesday night show Mendenhall has picked up significant fundraising steam after the primary, when she finished first despite raising a fraction of some of her opponents

Recent polls by the Salt Lake Chamber and also put Mendenhall anywhere from five to 13 points ahead of Escamilla in the race.

Mendenhall has also outspent her opponent, spending a total of $389,345 ahead of the Nov. 5 election compared to Escamilla’s $366,794.

Mendenhall, a two-term city councilwoman, reported donations from Gov. Gary Herbert’s leadership PAC, a handful of unions, Utah House Minority Leader Brian King and Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, among others.

“This feels like another sign that the momentum we started building in the primary is still growing,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “You don’t buy votes, you earn them, which is why I am walking our neighborhoods and knocking on voters’ doors just about every day at this point to engage voters directly and earn their support.”

While the city councilwoman raised more, she pointed to billboard ads supporting Escamilla that her opponent did not pay for. 

“When you factor in the value of two and a half months of free advertisements on dozens of billboards, and others supporting our opponent, this feels like a wash. This is why we worked as hard as we did to match every dollar we thought would be spent against us,” she said.

Escamilla, who represents west side Salt Lake City and parts of West Valley City in the Utah Senate, picked up financial support from current Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Delta Airlines, the Gardner Company — owned by philanthropist Kem Gardner — and several of her colleagues in the Legislature.

“Our grassroots campaign has exceeded our fundraising goals and we feel our campaign is in the financial position needed to finish this campaign strong,” said Escamilla’s campaign manager, Rudy Miera.

Escamilla’s campaign also received a donation form Herbert’s PAC but returned the $2,000 gift.

Mendenhall has been “dumping dollars on mail, television and online ads,” the Escamilla campaign said. “So the final numbers are not surprising and we still feel confident we’re in a strong position to win this election.” 

With just a few days until the election, Mendenhall has $39,892 in the bank while Escamilla has $28,946 on hand.

This year marks the first time two women are facing off for the Salt Lake City mayoral post in a general election.

The two have each been campaigning on their record. Mendenhall has spent six years on the city council and says she knows the intricacies of running a municipality. Escamilla has said after a decade in the Utah Senate, she has good relationships with Republican state leaders and could help repair tension between the state and city as mayor. 

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