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Washington • Dan Liljenquist is fueling his campaign with $300,000 of his own money as he tries to unseat six-term Sen. Orrin Hatch, who continues to speed away from his competitors with one major fundraising haul after another.
The latest campaign filings show Liljenquist also raised $169,200 in the first three months of the year and has $242,200 available.
During that same period, Hatch amassed $1.26 million in contributions and has $3.25 million in the bank.
The reporting period covers March's highly anticipated caucus meetings, in which the 4,000 delegates were selected to participate in the April 21 Utah Republican Convention. Candidates who snatch 60 percent of the delegate support will advance to a general election. If no one reaches that mark, the top two vote-getters will face off in a June 26 primary.
In the Senate race, recent polls have shown Hatch with the support of 50 percent to 60 percent of the GOP delegates against Liljenquist, a former state senator, and state Rep. Chris Herrod.
But it has been far from easy for Hatch, who has faced a barrage of outside spending and a tea party-fueled opposition in what has been the stiffest challenge in his 36-year career.
He has spent freely in a bid for one last term in office, burning through $2.47 million since Jan. 1 on a ground campaign and a persistent barrage of ads through the mail and the media.
Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen said the senator's team has stuck to an aggressive plan and is prepared to do so through the convention and a possible primary.
"We still have plenty of money in the bank for the rest of the campaign," Hansen said, "no matter how long it takes."
Herrod, who has raised $21,500 and had $2,400 in available money at the beginning of April, said his meager fundraising doesn't mean he isn't a viable contender.
"We have been very frugal. One hundred percent of our staff is volunteer," he said. "Part of the problem we have in Washington is people spending too much money."
Liljenquist said he is pleased with the money he has raised "primarily from family and friends" and added he lent his campaign money because he got in the race late.
"We didn't want to be hindered by financial issues," he said. "You need money to get your message out. We feel like we have plenty of money to do that."
Utah also has U.S. House races under way, with the most attention going to the new 4th District, where Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, waits for one of three main GOP challengers in former Reps. Carl Wimmer and Stephen Sandstrom and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love.
Matheson has $971,500 to spend so far and, like Hatch in the Senate race, should have a financial edge in the fall.
In the GOP fight, Wimmer has $114,000, with a major portion of his money coming through Club for Growth, a conservative group that worked to defeat three-term Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010. Sandstrom has largely financed his own campaign.
He provided an additional $127,000 during the reporting period, and collected $9,100 from contributors.
Love has yet to file her report, which was due at midnight Monday.
In the crowded and wide-open 2nd District race, eight Republicans filed reports and the candidates in the best financial position are author Chris Stewart, who has $113,000 available, and former House Speaker Dave Clark, with $80,600 on hand, though they haven't been the biggest spenders in the race so far.
Cherilyn Eagar, who ran for Senate in 2010, tops the 2nd District candidates by spending $111,600 this year, largely on direct mailers and campaign staff.
She is followed by Howard Wallack, who shelled out $86,300, and Bob Fuehr, who is self-funding his campaign and spent $73,500.
None of the three Democrats in the race filed reports.
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The money chase
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican
Cash on hand • $3.25 million
Raised • $1.26 million
Spent • $2.47 million
Dan Liljenquist, Republican
Cash on hand • $242,200
Raised • $169,200
Spent • $227,100
Chris Herrod, Republican
Cash on hand • $2,400
Raised • $21,500
Spent • $20,600
House 4th District*
Rep. Jim Matheson, Democrat
Cash on hand • $971,500
Raised • $339,700
Spent • $64,600
Carl Wimmer, Republican
Cash on hand • $114,000
Raised • $76,800
Spent • $75,800
Stephen Sandstrom, Republican
Cash on hand • $130,600
Raised • $9,100
Spent • $75,300
* Note: Candidate Mia Love (4th District) has not provided her campaign report. The money raised and spent covers Jan. 1 to April 1.
Source: Federal Election Commission