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Primary costly for GOP

Drain on funds may help Jim Matheson

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, may smile the most at new campaign finance disclosures of his two GOP challengers, John Swallow and Tim Bridgewater.

Forms show they are spending big money against each other — and both say they may drain available funds dry if that's needed to win their primary. As of two months ago, Matheson had amassed $800,000 in the bank to give himself a huge financial advantage against whoever wins.

Meanwhile, in Utah's 3rd District House race, Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, has belatedly shifted his fund-raising and campaigning into full gear — raising and spending four times more than rival Matt Throckmorton in the past two months. Cannon had done relatively little fund-raising until Throckmorton surprisingly forced him into a primary.

That is revealed in forms candidates were required to file Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, 12 days before their June 22 primary. Forms cover the period from April 19 to June 2, and candidates also filed some notices of large donations since then.

Forms show that Swallow has spent $523,746 so far — but only $26,615 of it in the reporting period. His total is more than twice as much as the $209,102 Bridgewater spent (but he has spent a heftier $97,446 since April 19). Bridgewater won a majority of delegate votes at the GOP convention but not enough to avoid a primary.

Swallow reported $220,280 cash on hand at the end of the period, compared to $151,811 for Bridgewater. Swallow also had more unpaid bills — $36,999 — compared to $17,542 for Bridgewater.

Both said they are willing to spend all available funds, if necessary, to advance.

"I was a baseball coach once on a team that was undefeated in the regular season," Swallow said. "The playoffs were single elimination. In the first game, I pulled our starting pitcher with a 3-1 lead to save him for the next game. But guess what? My other pitcher had an off night, and we were eliminated. I learned my lesson.

"I understand that we have to win to move on, and I will spend what it takes," he said.

Likewise, Bridgewater said, "I'm willing to spend the lion's share of what's left as we go down to the wire on such things as direct-mail advertising and get-out-the-vote activities."

Both say GOP money will likely flow well to the winner after the election — but both would still be far behind Matheson's head start.

Their money is also coming from very different sources — Bridgewater mostly from his own pocket, while Swallow is gaining much from the pro-business Club for Growth, which also spent huge money in outside advertising for him two years ago.

Bridgewater gave or loaned $254,000 to his campaign — two-thirds of his total raised. That is also a significant amount for someone who figures his total net worth is now between $750,000 and $1 million.

While Swallow's forms do not clearly show exactly how much Club for Growth members donated to him, it appears to be more than $170,000 — although Swallow says he thinks it is only $140,000. So club members may have provided about a quarter of his money.

In the 3rd District, Cannon has raised $375,632 — with a hefty $123,325 of it coming since he was forced into the primary. By comparison, Throckmorton has raised $45,114 — and $29,446 has come since the convention.

Cannon has spent $324,560 total — including $102,631 since April 19. Throckmorton has spent $37,007, including $24,346 since April 19.

Cannon still was technically in the red at the end of the period, while Throckmorton was in the black. Cannon had $47,485 in cash in the bank but listed unpaid bills of $51,415. Throckmorton had $7,107 in the bank and $1,720 in unpaid bills.

Immigration has become a major issue in that race because Cannon has pushed legislation to allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Meghan Riding, spokeswoman for Cannon, said outside groups opposing that have spent an estimated $80,000 in radio ads against him in recent months.

The U.S. Immigration Reform political action committee also gave $5,000 during the period to Throckmorton, a ninth of the total money he has raised. Interestingly, apparently to rally Hispanics to his cause, forms showed Cannon spent $1,000 in advertising on the Spanish language Radio Unica.

The winner between Cannon and Throckmorton will face Democrat Beau Babka. Babka has said he has not yet raised or spent the minimum amount needed to require him to file financial disclosure forms.

E-mail: leed@desnews.com