- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Jonathan Johnson, his 2016 re-election challenger, have raised a combined $760,000 so far this year, according to state campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.

Herbert’s political action committee, Governors Leadership Political Action Committee, raised more than $313,000 this year through Sept. 25. After spending about $435,000 on campaign expenses, the account had about $1.2 million left over.

That’s in addition to $52,000 that Herbert has sitting in another PAC and in his official campaign account.

Johnson, a well-funded Republican who serves as chairman of the board at Overstock.com, raised about $452,000 this year through his PAC and campaign account.

The governor mainly uses his PAC to raise money in off-election years and to give donations to other candidates and groups like the Utah Republican Party, Herbert’s campaign spokesman Marty Carpenter said Thursday. Most of the money raised and spent next year will be through the official campaign account, Carpenter said.

The biggest donor to Herbert’s PAC this year was Domo Inc., the American Fork-based business analytics company, which gave $25,000.

The PAC received $15,000 from gas and oil executive John H. Morgan and his companies. Real estate company Price Realty Group gave $15,000, and the Larry H. Miller Group, which owns the Utah Jazz, car dealerships and numerous other companies, gave $13,000.

“I think they’re strong numbers for the governor,” Carpenter said. “It shows he has strong support from across the state.”

Johnson’s Promote Liberty PAC raised $184,000 this year, but Dave Hansen, Johnson’s campaign manager, said Thursday that the PAC has been raising and spending money for other efforts besides Johnson’s campaign.

Those other efforts included campaigns to support state legislation that Johnson advocated for, said Alex Iorg, the PAC’s treasurer. One measure allowed terminally ill patients to obtain experimental drugs and the other required Utah high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test to graduate from high school.

Both were passed by Utah’s Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Herbert.

The PAC raised the bulk of its money after the legislative session ended, including $100,000 from Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com.

In Johnson’s separate campaign account, he reported earning about $268,000 this year, almost all of which was given through in-kind donations.

Hansen said the campaign is still in its early stages, but even more money will be flowing in as the election season gets underway. “We feel it’s going very well,” he said.

The biggest contribution to Johnson’s campaign was an in-kind donation of about $180,000 from Silver Bullet LLC, a Nevada-based political consulting firm.

Chuck Warren, one of the firm’s managing partners, said Thursday that the donation was for campaign-related data, but he wouldn’t offer further details about the data.

Warren, whose past work includes the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, gave $10,000 more to Johnson’s PAC. Warren’s business partner Timothy Mooney gave another $10,000.

Warren said he has worked with Johnson for more than 14 years through Overstock.com and other political efforts and thinks he’d make an excellent governor.

No Democratic candidate for governor has jumped into the race yet.

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Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice .

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