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Money no problem for GOP's Leavitt

David Leavitt
David Leavitt

It's nice to have a big family with a bunch of money and friends in high places.

Republican David O. Leavitt, who is running for the 3rd Congressional District, is in that situation. He has the ability to raise money, his new FEC report shows. But he also has the means to pump millions of dollars of his own money into his race.

Leavitt said his federal personal financial filings show his worth at between $31 million and $81 million.

The younger brother of former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt is trying to oust six-term GOP incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon. David Leavitt raised $110,000 over the past three months. Cannon raised $53,000 over the same time frame.

Cannon also is a millionaire. In congressional financial-disclosure forms filed this past May, he declared a net worth between $2.1 million and $7.5 million. In 2006, he loaned his campaign $138,000.

So far, it is a three-person race for the 3rd District GOP nomination, with Leavitt and Cannon joined by Jason Chaffetz, former chief of staff to GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. New filings show that Chaffetz raised $45,100 over the last three months.

But it is David Leavitt's fund-raising, and his personal wealth, that sticks out from the threesome's finances right now.

Leavitt, 44, declined to say how much of his own money he may put into his race. But he said if his fund-raising falls short from what his financial campaign plan calls for, "then the option to put some (money) in myself certainly exists." He has already loaned his campaign $10,500.

Leavitt raised $27,000 from his immediate family — most of whom work for The Leavitt Group of insurance agencies and related family businesses, which are the basic foundation of David Leavitt's wealth, as well. Each of the six Leavitt sons and their father, Dixie, own a similar share in the family businesses, which spring from a small independent insurance agency started years ago by Dixie Leavitt in Cedar City.

David Leavitt has raised another $8,566 from individuals with some connection to the insurance industry, according to his first filings with the Federal Election Commission. David Leavitt has never worked for the family businesses, running his own law practices instead.

He has also raised $8,100 from well-known Utahns who have long supported Mike Leavitt, who is now a member of President Bush's Cabinet as the head of the federal department of Health and Human Services.

David Leavitt, a former Juab County district attorney, also has landed $6,500 from attorneys. Add a group of central Utah businessmen, and you can see why he raised more money over the past three months than did incumbent Cannon.

"I raised more money than Cannon did, even if you don't count the Leavitts," said David Leavitt. "But there are a lot of Leavitts. And if you can't count on your immediate family to support you, you've got problems."

Most of the 14 Leavitts on his report gave him the maximum amount allowed at this point in the race under FEC rules — $2,300 apiece. They can give more if Leavitt comes out of next spring's Utah State Republican convention, either as the sole party nominee for the 3rd District or gets into a late-June primary election with another GOP candidate.

Leavitt said he has a detailed agenda, both in fund raising and political issues, that he believes will take him through the GOP state convention and through the June-long primary election, should he not win the 3rd District Republican Party nomination in the convention.

"The common rule of thought is that the convention is the place where you have to take out" Cannon, said Leavitt.

Chaffetz has said that's where he plans on ousting the incumbent. Should a candidate get 60 percent of the 3rd District delegate vote, he wins the nomination outright. Short of that, the top two delegate vote-getters advance to the June closed GOP primary.

"While that rule may be true, one cannot proceed to the convention without a primary plan, including raising money" for an expensive primary TV ad battle, Leavitt said. "John Jacob found that out."

Jacob, a land and water developer, actually got more GOP delegate votes than did Cannon in the 2006 Republican convention. But Jacob's public primary campaign fizzled over the next four weeks, and Cannon won the vote going away.

Jacob, like Leavitt and Cannon, is a millionaire. Jacob ended up loaning his campaign $544,000.

Cannon only has $40,000 in cash in his campaign account. Leavitt has $95,200 in cash and Chaffetz has $35,400 in cash, their new FEC reports show.