The race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, currently represented by the state’s lone Democrat, remains deeply lopsided when it comes to campaign donations, according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Incumbent Rep. Ben McAdams raised about $900,000 in the last three months of 2019, nearly doubling his contribution totals to $2.2 million.
McAdams’ total contributions amount to roughly 10 times as much as his most well-funded competitors: Republicans Kathleen Anderson and Kim Coleman.
“It's very typical for an incumbent to outraise a challenger,” said Brigham Young University political science professor Quin Monson. “Even if there were Republican donors ready to challenge McAdams, it's not clear where their money should go at this point because there's not a front runner to make that easy.”
Roughly 85% of McAdams’ fourth quarter donations came from out of state, mainly from Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and New York. Those include many business-oriented political action committees, like the Charles Schwab Corporation PAC and the Deloitte PAC.
“They're buying access [to a member of Congress],” Monson said. “They're basically making donations so that they have an easier time getting the information they want or getting face time with a member of Congress.”
However, only about 30% of McAdams’ total fourth quarter donations came from PACs.
Eighty percent of Coleman’s fourth quarter donations came from out of state, including 23% from the D.C.-based House Freedom Fund, which funds Republican congressional candidates. Only 1% of Anderson’s fourth quarter donations came from out of state.
Coleman and Anderson were recently named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns Program — after meeting “minimum threshold in campaign organization” and showing potential to reach more benchmarks.
But Monson said if, after the June primary the Republican nominee is not polling well, national interests may not spend big to try to flip McAdams’ seat.
“If in the polling that they have [McAdams is] ahead by 10 or 12 or 15 points or something, at that point they might walk away,” Monson said. “They're very strategic in the extent to which they decide to step in and aid a Republican candidate. They're not interested in throwing money towards somebody who doesn't have a shot at winning.”
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson