A potential primary challenger to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) had a good month in terms of fundraising as he considers whether or not to launch a bid.
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson has raised $2.2 million since launching an exploratory committee in April, according to the Washington Examiner. “Nearly half of the sum was raised by in-state donors, while $1.2 million comes from Wilson’s own personal contribution, according to the committee,” the outlet added.
“Since announcing an exploratory committee for U.S. Senate, I have traveled to every corner of the state to meet with Utahns. Their message is loud and clear: Utah wants a bold, proven, conservative leader in the U.S. Senate,” Wilson noted in a statement.
“I am encouraged by the enthusiastic support we’ve received so far. This finance report is only the beginning and shows that should I decide to run, we will have the resources and firepower we need to get our message out — and win,” he added.
Wilson’s contributions have left him with an impressive cash reserve of over $2.1 million, providing him with a robust advantage in his potential challenge against Romney. In contrast, the Utah senator’s filings with the Federal Election Commission reveal a comparatively modest balance of just over $604,000 at the end of March, the latest reporting period.
Romney, who voted in favor of impeaching then-President Donald Trump, has yet to decide whether he wants to seek another term. That said, the first-term incumbent filed papers with the Federal Election Commission in April to allow him to begin raising money for a potential campaign. If he does run, the Examiner noted, “it could set the stage for one of the most competitive GOP primaries of the 2024 cycle.”
The outlet noted further:
Although Romney benefits from national name recognition, the Republican senator has attracted backlash due to his willingness to break with his party on several issues, especially regarding former President Donald Trump. Romney is the only Republican senator to vote to impeach Trump twice, making his chances unclear in the reliably red state of Utah, which voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020 by wide margins. However, conservative anti-Trump sentiment is more pronounced in Utah than in other red states, which could boost his standing.
Recent polling shows Utah voters are split on whether Romney should run for another term, with only 47% saying he should run compared to 51% who say he should not, according to a poll from Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics. Another 3% said they were unsure.
While he has yet to make up his mind on another Senate bid Romney predicted he would win if he runs.
“I’ll make that assessment over the coming months, and sometime in the spring or summer, I’ll make that decision,” he told reporters in February. “I’m confident that I would win if I decide to run. I’ll have the resources, and I believe the people of Utah would be with me.”
Last week, Romney said he would like to see the GOP move on from Trump, but admitted that the former president is likely to recapture the 2024 nomination.
I hope the jury of the American people reaches the same conclusion about Donald Trump. He just is not suited to be president of the United States and to be the person who we hold up to our children and the world as the leader of the free world,” Romney said.
“At some point when the people who work with you, your cabinet secretaries, and juries conclude that you’ve done something severely wrong, it’s time for us to recognize that the great majority of those who’ve worked with him is right and he’s wrong,” he added.