SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney’s bid for the U.S. Senate in Utah is getting a big financial boost from leftover funds from his past two unsuccessful bids for president.
Romney transferred $1 million from an account created a decade ago when he first ran for president and used again when he became the 2012 Republican nominee, according to a campaign finance report released Tuesday.
The former Massachusetts governor had $1.15 million in his account as of April 1, the report shows. He raised nearly $677,000 after he announced his candidacy in mid-February and spent about $527,000.
Romney has running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The report comes ahead of the Utah Republican party convention on April 21, where Romney will compete against 11 other candidates for the nomination.
The winner of the convention, which typically favors more conservative candidates, will face off in a June 26 primary against any candidate who gathers 28,000 voter signatures to earn a place on the ballot, something Romney is pursuing.
Romney is considered the favorite to win the seat. He’s known in the state for reviving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal and later becoming the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major political party. About 60 percent of Utah’s residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Attorney Larry Meyers, another GOP candidate, said he’s not surprised by Romney’s campaign funding but said it won’t matter at the convention. Meyers said he raised about $15,000 and had $4,000 in his account as of April 1.
“It’s the message, not they money that will make the difference,” Meyers said. “Republicans are looking for someone who has Utah roots.”
Another candidate, state Rep. Mike Kennedy questioned why Romney is using the money from the presidential campaign when he’s vowed to make the campaign all about Utah. Kennedy raised nearly $38,000 and has loaned himself $251,000.
“If he has millions of dollars left over from his presidential campaigns, that include donations from special interests and people outside of Utah, why didn’t he use that money to win and defeat Obama?” Kennedy said.
Democratic candidate Jenny Wilson, a Salt Lake County Council member, doesn’t have to turn her report in until next week since her party’s convention is a week later. Wilson said in a statement that Romney’s transfer of the presidential funds “leads one to wonder who he will represent?”