- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Front-runner congressional candidate Mia Love has gained even more fundraising ground on her Democratic challenger over the past three months, raising, on average, almost five times as much as Doug Owens every day.

Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, collected almost $746,900 from April through June, while attorney Owens brought in about $161,600.

That’s an average of $8,787 a day for Love and $1,900 a day for Owens during those months.

If she wins the election in November, she’d become the first black female Republican elected to Congress.

Her fundraising edge comes on the heels of a high-profile speech Love gave in June at former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s annual ideas summit at a luxury Park City-area resort.

After losing by less than 800 votes in 2012 to Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, Love said Thursday she’s not taking anything for granted.

“Nothing’s ever a sure thing,” Love said. “I’m not going to take my foot off the pedal. I’m going to go out and earn every single vote that I possibly can.”

Love’s latest fundraising report shows she collected about $344,800 from individuals who gave less than $200 each and about $90,000 from political action committees, including groups associated with businesses, black conservatives and billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Of the individuals who gave her more than $200, many were from out of state, with donations coming in from places such as Phoenix, New York City and Belton, Missouri.

“I think it just goes to show that people are paying attention to us here in the state, and we’re excited about that,” Love said of the out-of-state donors.

The report shows that over the past few months, Love has spent about $500,000 on campaign buttons, robocalls, staff salaries and mailers. She closed out June with about $873,000 in her campaign account.

Owens, the son of late U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens of Utah, spent about $69,800 on campaign staff and consultants, social media marketing, yard signs and speech coaching, leaving him with about $209,700.

“As a first-time challenger, I’m proud of those numbers,” Owens said Thursday. “I’m encouraged by the interaction I’ve had with voters, and I plan to wage a very competitive campaign.”

Owens said voters won’t be swayed by Love’s name recognition or attention from national media.

“The election is going to be determined by who can best represent the voters of the district. They don’t want to be told how to vote by some blogger in Washington,” he said. “It’s not going to be determined by who has the biggest campaign war chest.”

His latest campaign finance report shows Owens collected about $23,000 in small donations and about $3,000 from political action committees, $2,000 of which came from the National Education Association. The rest came from a labor union group.

Love has been hauling in cash for months, and has had a general-head start on the campaign, having announced she wanted another shot at the seat months after she lost to Matheson in 2012. Matteson announced in late 2013 that he would not run again.

The race in the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Salt Lake City suburbs south to Sanpete County, is one of Utah’s most watched this year.

Those who haven’t been paying attention may find themselves watching anyway this year, with both Love and Owens set to drop an avalanche of television ads on Utah network affiliates this fall.

Federal Communications Commission records show both candidates are spending a combined half a million dollars for 30-second spots airing from September to Election Day.

Other candidates in the race include Libertarian Jim Vein, who ran for the seat in 2012, Collin Robert Simonsen, a Constitution Party candidate, and Tim Aalders, an Independent American candidate.

Not all updated fundraising reports were available Thursday in Utah’s three other congressional districts, which are held by Republicans seeking re-election this year.

- In the 1st Congressional District, a report from Republican Rep. Rob Bishop shows he raised about $127,000 over the past few months and had about $97,000 left. Democrat Donna McAleer raised $75,000 in that same period and finished the quarter with about $83,000.

- In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart collected about $118,000, spent almost as much and ended June with $215,000. A report from Democrat Luz Robles, a state senator, was not posted by the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

- In the 3rd Congressional District, a report for Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz showed he gathered $178,000 from April through June and had $256,000 remaining. A report for Democrat Brian Wonnacott was not available.

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