GOP primary candidates have cash, but super PACs doing the spending

SALT LAKE CITY — All three of the Republican primary candidates in the race to fill the 3rd Congressional District seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz still have money to spend in the final days of the campaign, according to new financial disclosures.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed Provo Mayor John Curtis with more than $106,000 in cash on hand as of July 26, while former state lawmaker Chris Herrod had nearly $89,600, and Alpine lawyer Tanner Ainge, nearly $96,500.

Curtis continues to lead in fundraising, posting just under $139,000 in new contributions since July 1, while Herrod collected $58,800, and Ainge $76,400 over the same time period.

But even more telling about the Aug. 15 primary is the money being spent by so-called super political action committees — more than $500,000 so far, according to federal disclosures — is almost as much as the candidates have raised overall.

“For me, the big story in terms of money isn’t what’s happening in terms of the individual campaigns. It’s the independent expenditures, which are huge,” said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.

Friday, a political arm of Club for Growth announced it was endorsing Herrod and unveiled a new 30-second Halloween-themed TV commercial complete with jack-o’-lanterns and bats that accuses Curtis and Ainge of masquerading as conservatives.

The Washington-based free-enterprise group has contracted for more than $140,000 in airtime on KSL and other Utah TV stations starting Monday through the primary, and spent more than $5,700 on an anti-Curtis website.

Club For Growth’s website said “Herrod is the only proven conservative in the race, and his strongest opponent is liberal Provo Mayor John Curtis, a former Democrat with a long record of supporting higher taxes and bigger government.”

Another super PAC, National Horizon, reported spending $96,000 on mailers opposed to Curtis last month and another $58,500 producing and placing pro-Herrod commercials. A National Horizon radio spot labeled Curtis “one smooth politician.”

Other independent expenditures on behalf of Herrod include more than $30,800 in media from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s Jobs, Freedom…

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