Jul 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Potential Romney primary challenger builds up $2.1 million war chest

Sen. Mitt Romney. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

A prominent Republican is banking millions in campaign cash as he weighs a bid for Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) seat.

Why it matters: It signals jeopardy for Romney, who hasn’t said if he’ll run for a second term in 2024 after angering some in his party by voting twice to convict former President Trump.

Driving the news: Brad Wilson, the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, announced that his exploratory committee raised $2.2 million between April and June and has $2.1 million in cash on hand.

  • Just over $1 million of that was raised from donors, with Wilson, a real estate developer, adding $1.2 million in a personal contribution.
  • It's the most any Republican Utah Senate candidate – or potential candidate – has raised in their first quarter, Wilson's press office said.
  • Wilson said in a statement that the haul shows "should I decide to run, we will have the resources and firepower we need to get our message out – and win.”

Zoom in: Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, had $600,000 in cash on hand as of his latest Federal Election Commission filing in March.

  • He has raised $1.6 million since 2019, including $100,000 in the first quarter of this year. He has not yet announced his second quarter fundraising.
  • But Romney, himself a wealthy former finance executive, has the capacity to match Wilson's self-funding if he decides to run.

The state of play: A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll in June found that 41% of Utahn's approve of the job Romney is doing while 49% disapprove – down 11 percentage points since March.

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