As Utah moves full-throttle toward the June 25 primary, campaigns and political groups have poured millions of dollars into ads for Republican Senate candidates running for the seat currently held by Sen. Mitt Romney.

The seat is considered safe for the Republican nominee by The Cook Political Report, so the race could be all but over in the next few weeks. Ballots for the primary are already hitting Utah mailboxes so the four Senate candidates are making their last minute pitches to Republican voters.

Rep. John Curtis, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton and former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson all rolled out new ads following the state convention, but these last few weeks are critical as the candidates make their final case to Republican voters.

As of the latest FEC filings from early April, more than $16.8 million had been spent in the Republican primary by candidates as well as outside groups, according to Open Secrets. Many millions more have likely been spent in the weeks since as voters are bombarded with mail, digital, print and TV ads.

The next deadline for candidates to file reports with the FEC is 12 days before the primary election, or June 13.

Now that Utahns have their ballots, the last couple weeks are critical for candidates moving forward. By law, super PACs cannot coordinate with campaigns. But following where those groups are spending their money can tell you a thing or two about the election.

Curtis is ‘actively engaging with supporters’

Among the candidates, Curtis has received the vast majority of support from outside spenders, with over $6.6 million spent to boost his campaign from political action committees, which are not allowed to coordinate with candidates’ campaigns.

The latest reports available show Conservative Values for Utah, a PAC that has only supported Curtis, has spent $4.6 million on behalf of his campaign, according to Open Secrets. Among the several donations the PAC has received, the largest was from Jay Faison, the head of a conservative clean energy group, while another came from Robert Walton, one of Walmart founder Sam Walton’s heirs.

Defend American Jobs has spent more than $1.5 million to support Curtis, in addition to other Republican candidates across the country. It is funded by venture capital firms which concentrate on infrastructure, cryptocurrency and technology.

A PAC focused on ClearPath Action Fund had previously announced it was launching a $500,000 effort to aid Curtis in his senatorial bid.

Meanwhile, Curtis has raised over $2.7 million for his campaign, according to the latest FEC reports, and has spent about $1.8 million. He has run a slew of digital and television ads focused on fiscal responsibility, border security and lands issues.

One of the ads shows Curtis sporting a plaid flannel shirt talking to a rancher and clips of the Utah outdoors. The narrator speaks about how Curtis has helped Utah reclaim land from the federal government.

Another ad shows portraits and footage of Curtis at the southern border. He says that drugs are coming into Utah from across the border and his plan to stop them is to hire more agents, stop the cartels and secure the border.

Curtis has also been the target of negative campaign ads.

Early on in the race, Utahns for Liberty spent tens of thousands of dollars against Curtis. Among the group’s funders was Utah state House Speaker Mike Schultz. The group ran an ad criticizing Curtis on the border.

“Congressman Curtis’ campaign is actively engaging with supporters who share his values and vision for Utah,” Corey Norman, chief of staff for Curtis, told the Deseret News. “We’re grateful for the generosity of those who contribute as it allows us to amplify our conservative message and reach more people.”

Staggs says he has a ‘grassroots army’ supporting him

The Protect Freedom PAC, founded by former campaign staffers for Ron and Rand Paul, has spent $531,538 for Staggs, per Open Secrets. The vast majority of that money is directed toward cable and television ads, while there’s also some for digital support.

Staggs has also raised more than $920,000 according to the latest filings, while spending about half of that amount.

In a recent ad, Staggs touted his endorsement from former president Donald Trump, while criticizing Romney and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sporting an American flag pin, a grey jacket and blue jeans, Staggs stands in front of an off-white screen declaring he’ll stand his ground against the establishment and secure the border.

In a statement to the Deseret News, Staggs said, “I’m grateful to the over 7,000 donors that have contributed to my campaign. While opponents are funded by mega donors and special interests, we’ve raised more in small dollar donations than anyone else in the race. Our campaign isn’t funded by special interests. It’s funded by concerned parents, voters and people looking to keep the American Dream alive.”

“While that’s given us the ability to advertise on TV, digital and every other way possible, now it’s also given us a grassroots army knocking doors, making calls and texting their neighbors,” continued Staggs. “Utahns are hungry for an everyday Utahn. They’re hungry for America First policies, and that’s what I offer as a senator.”

Staggs has also been the subject of negative campaign ads.

The Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent thousands on mailers that characterize Staggs as “woke.” The group also spent money against Curtis. The group’s donors haven’t been disclosed yet.

One of the anti-Staggs mailers depicts a police car that was set on fire. “Trent Staggs caved in to the rioters,” said the ad. It was sent ahead of convention and claimed Staggs had a “weak, woke record.”

At the time, Staggs responded to the ad by saying “lies and smears aren’t the ‘Utah way.’”

A campaign billboard for U.S. Senate candidate Jason Walton in Salt Lake County on Thursday, June 6, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Walton plans to keep ‘aggressively advertising’

A spokesperson for the Walton campaign told the Deseret News that the campaign plans on “aggressively advertising” over the next couple of weeks.

Walton has raised over $2.7 million, of which $2.5 million was a loan from Walton to his own campaign.

“We just increased our media buys on television and radio and also on social media,” said the spokesperson, adding that fundraising has gone well, but a campaign is expensive and they won’t be turning away prospective donors.

The campaign plans on “sticking to our simple message about fixing the economy, lowering prices on food and gas and homes, and trying to get runaway inflation under control and also fixing the border crisis.”

One of Walton’s ads shows the business executive at the Arizona-Mexico border criticizing President Joe Biden and “career politicians” for failing to secure the border while also funding foreign wars.

“Our government should defend our territory,” said Walton.

On May 31, an invoice was uploaded on the Federal Communications Commission website showing ad buys for Walton on ABC4 Utah into late May.

Wilson focuses on being a ‘grassroots campaign’

Wilson, who announced his campaign back in September 2023, has loaned his campaign around $2.8 million, while raising almost another $2 million from donors.

Wilson’s pitched himself as a conservative fighter who will “leave the cowardly RINOs” behind, as one of his ads says. RINO is a term that means Republican in Name Only. This television ad depicts Wilson in a 1966 Chevy Chevelle SS zooming past a Corvette with a Biden license plate with the Utah mountains and desert in the background.

From August 2023 to April 2024, FEC filings show Wilson spending over $600,000 with Flexpoint Media Inc. and Arena Mail & Digital LLC for both media placements and digital advertisements.

Wilson’s spending from late May and June will show up in later FEC filings.

The Deseret News learned that outside groups haven’t spent anything supporting or opposing Wilson recently. As for Wilson’s campaign, the last invoice available on the Federal Communications Commission website for Wilson on ABC4 Utah was uploaded on May 21 and shows Wilson ads purchased through late May. As for KSL, there were four invoices uploaded showing ad purchases throughout April and into late May.

The campaign has been out in the field knocking doors six days a week, a source with the Wilson campaign told the Deseret News.

“We have the best grassroots support and ground game out of any of the campaigns and we appreciate everyone’s support,” said the source. “Our team on average knocks over 2,000 doors per week.”

When asked specifically if the campaign plans on buying more ads, the source did not specify either way.

The candidate who wins the Republican Senate primary will square off against Democratic candidate Caroline Gleich in the general election.