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Washington • Rep. Jim Matheson has never had a better fundraising period in his 12 years in office. He raised $471,000 since July, but the Democratic congressman still got lapped by his challenger.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love brought in a little more than $1 million this period, a big chunk of which came after her speech at the Republican National Convention in late August. That is an unheard of amount of money for a House race in Utah and it significantly narrows Matheson's overall financial advantage.

Matheson, no stranger to tight elections, has brought in more than $2 million since his 2010 victory, while Love has raised $1.5 million in her first bid for federal office.

"When it comes to the financial side of this, I would rather be in my position than hers," Matheson said Monday, referring to his campaign having already paid $1.26 million for advertisements through Election Day.

Love has only spent $339,000 on TV and radio spots though she has reserved more time. As of Oct. 1, Love reported $455,000 in available funds. Matheson had $307,000 at his disposal.

Matheson downplayed Love's strong showing. "I run a two-year campaign," he said. "I don't get caught up in one period or another."

And Love swatted right back: "I really don't pay attention to what Jim Matheson says."

She called it "humbling" to raise so much money in such a short time. Her campaign says it has received more than 13,000 contributions from throughout the nation, including checks from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the political action committee of Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

"The number of individual donors is amazing," she said. "It just shows Americans are awake. Utahns are awake."

She slammed Matheson for relying on the financial support of political action committees with business before Congress. Matheson does receive the bulk of his donations from PACs, which tend to support incumbents, but argues that Utah is a small state with a shallow donor pool requiring politicians to look elsewhere. He noted she received much of her money from outside of Utah as well.

Love, who would be the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, has received heavy support from sitting lawmakers and reached a broader audience with her prime-time speaking slot at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

The two are squaring off in Utah's marquee contest, the fight for the 4th Congressional District, which has attracted national attention. Outside groups have pumped in more than $3.5 million, split almost evenly in support of the candidates.

The Cook Political Report, which handicaps races, still says this one is a toss up, while polling, much of it released by partisan groups, has been erratic.

House Majority PAC and Center Forward, two groups supporting Matheson, released an ad on Monday showing him 7 percentage points ahead, 48 percent to 41 percent, while a KSL-Deseret News poll in September showed Love up 49 percent to 43 percent.

Twitter: @mattcanham

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