Entries in Utah (16)


Utah Mayor Mia Love Would Forego Congressional Salary If Elected

Love4Utah(SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah) -- If Mia Love is elected to Congress, she would not only be the first black female Republican ever to hold a U.S. House seat, she would also be one of the only Members of Congress to reject the $175,000 salary that comes with the job.

Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, said she has “no problem with having a pay cut.”

“The pay means nothing to me,” Love told CY Interview’s Chris Yandek and Jay Bildstein. “My husband provides a great living for all of us and you know I’m obviously not doing this because I need a job.”

Considering the entire personnel budget for Saratoga Springs’ mayor and five city council members was $36,000 in 2010, the $175,000 salary for a member of Congress is likely ten times higher than Love’s current salary.

“You know I have to tell you, this is going to be a sacrifice for myself and my family,” Love said. “I’m only doing this because I realize that the situation that my children are facing and my potential grandchildren will be facing in this country.”

But Love did not say she would work for free.

“As long as I can go to and from work and it doesn’t create a heavy financial burden, I’m perfectly fine with a pay cut,” she said. “That’s not a big deal.”

As an African American woman, Love has emerged as a rising star of the Republican Party. Currently there are only two black Republicans in Congress, South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott and Florida Rep. Allen West.

Last week Love scored a major endorsement from Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Love may need all the support she can get as she faces off against six-term Democrat Jim Matheson, who was leading Love by 15 points in the latest poll.

If elected, Love would not be the only representative foregoing the majority of their salary. Rep. John Yarmouth, D-Ky., has donated his congressional income to charity every year since he was first elected in 2006.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ann Romney Endorses Mia Love in Utah Congressional Race

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In her first solo endorsement of the 2012 cycle, Ann Romney has backed Utah Congressional candidate Mia Love.

The Romneys’ son Josh has already been vocal of his support for Love and Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Congressman, said last weekend in Utah that Josh and others there for the Romney donor retreat went to a fundraiser for Love.

“Women across the country are concerned for our children’s futures,” said Ann Romney in a written statement. “Will our children be able to find jobs and will they be faced with burdensome debt? Mia’s record of reducing spending and making government more accountable to the taxpayers should be an example for Washington. With leaders like her, we can help ensure that our children and grandchildren have bright futures.”

If elected, Love, a fitness instructor and small town mayor, would become the first African American Republican woman in Congress. But she will have to defeat six-term Democrat Jim Matheson. It’s already one of the most watched Congressional races of 2012 and handicappers rate it a toss-up.

Recent polling in the state shows Matheson with a solid lead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Charlie Rangel Survive Primary Challenges

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two Capitol Hill stalwarts -- a conservative senator and a liberal congressman -- easily won their respective primaries on Tuesday, fending off what were viewed as the toughest challenges of their careers.

In Utah, Republican Orrin Hatch, a U.S. senator for six terms, defeated the Tea Party-supported Dan Liljenquist by a two-to-one margin.

There were questions earlier this year about whether Hatch would win the GOP nomination, as the Tea Party seemed intent on replacing him with a candidate to the far right even though Hatch's conservative credentials were impeccable.

However, Hatch's base rallied for him and the senator's war chest of $7 million was no match for Liljenquist, who had less than $1 million to spend.  Hatch is expected to cruise to re-election in November.

Meanwhile in New York City, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel had no problem beating state Sen. Adriano Espaillat even as his 15th District in Harlem was melded into the mostly Latino 13th District.

Rangel, seeking his 22nd term in the House, is normally considered a lock to win the Democratic primary but this redistricting, along with ethics issues, posed a threat to his long tenure.

In December 2010, Rangel became the first congressman in nearly three decades to be censured after an ethics committee found him guilty of 11 charges, including improperly raising money for a college, failing to disclose investments and failing to pay taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic, among other things.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Will Orrin Hatch, Charlie Rangel Survive Tuesday's Contests?

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Utah holds its state and presidential GOP primary on Tuesday, while New York, Colorado and Oklahoma hold state and congressional contests.

Of these primaries, there are two big contests to keep an eye on: the Utah Republican Senate primary between six-term incumbent Orrin Hatch and Tea Party-challenger Dan Liljenquist, and the Democratic primary in New York’s 13th Congressional District, where longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel faces a tough primary challenge.

In Utah, senior Sen. Orrin Hatch looks to be well-positioned to win his party’s nomination and, given the strong Republican leaning of the state, reclaim his seat in the fall.  Nevertheless, Hatch, 78, has faced something he hasn’t had to endure in more than 30 years: a primary challenge.

Hatch is being challenged by former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who, at age 37, was just 1 year old when the longtime Congress member was first elected to represent the people of Utah in the Senate.  Polling shows Hatch with a strong lead going into Tuesday.

In New York, Charlie Rangel, the third longest-serving member of Congress, faces an in-party challenge as well, from state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, along with several others.  Rangel has had his share of problems in recent years; the congressman who has served in the House for 42 years was found guilty on 11 out of 12 ethics violations in 2010 and was censured by the House of Representatives.  He was forced to step down from a leadership position on the Ways and Means committee, where he had previously served as chairman.

Rangel, 82, was also slowed down recently after undergoing back surgery in the spring.

But the ethics issues surrounding the congressman were known during his last re-election campaign in 2010 as well (though he had not yet been found guilty and censured) and ultimately, most political observers agree, they won’t be his downfall.  

Rangel faces a new constituency as a result of redistricting in this election and his new district expands to several Hispanic areas of the Bronx, which boosts the Dominican-American Espaillat, who is viewed as Rangel’s strongest challenger.

Rangel has a large cash advantage over Espaillat, raising $1 million to Espaillat’s $300,000.  There are several other challengers in the field as well, including Clyde Williams, a former Democratic National Committee staffer.

Rangel is expected to survive, but the outcome is far from certain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Romney’s Donors Heard at This Weekend’s Utah Retreat

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(PARK CITY, Utah) -- Mitt Romney’s donors attended a golf outing on Sunday at the Red Ledges Gold Club in Heber, Utah, but the excitement was really what went on Friday and Saturday at the events and panels.

Romney’s top donors were treated to panels on specialized policy topics, such as healthcare or the financial services industry, heard speeches from stars of the Republican Party, such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and were granted access to the presidential candidate’s senior advisors for information about the inner workings of the campaign.

All events were closed to reporters, but ABC News has the rundown of some of what these donors were privileged to hear.

James Baker

One of the first discussions Friday was a lecture from former Secretary of State James Baker III.  Rodger Young, a donor from Michigan and New York, described the speech as “positive” in tone and although he said Baker did say the country was in “significant trouble” because of the nation’s “debt burden,” the state of the world “internationally … isn’t as bad as you think,” specifically pointing out that America has “still by far the strongest military.”

Baker scolded the Obama administration for “ignoring any type of bipartisanship,” according to Young.

Mitt and Ann Romney Greet Attendees

Friday evening, donors were treated to a lavish reception at Park City’s Olympic Park.  Attendees watched Olympic hopefuls perform on the ski jump, which was used in the 2002 Olympics, but they also heard from the Romney couple.

Two donors from New Jersey who attended the reception said their highlight was Ann Romney’s speech, when she introduced her family and roasted her sons, four of whom attended.  On Saturday, Sen. John Thune said Ann Romney’s speech was “funny” and called Mitt Romney’s address “inspirational” in tone that went beyond just thanking the fundraisers, adding that the presumptive GOP nominee described how he wants to lead the country.

Larry Conti, a plus-one attendee from Los Angeles, said Romney mentioned the Brookings Institution study, often cited by Rick Santorum during the primaries.  Romney spoke about this study in his speech to the annual Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.  The study found that marriage, education, and employment all play important roles in keeping people out of poverty.

McCain’s Morning Address

To kick off Saturday morning, Sen. John McCain addressed the donors.  Young told ABC News that McCain spoke about Iran, saying that “Iran is so much closer to nuclear weaponry than they were at the commencement of the Barack Obama term.”  McCain, who ran against President Obama in 2008, also discussed the “perceived weakness of the United States” in the world.

Innovation in America Panel

Attendees were then treated to a panel moderated by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who said the president “needs a lot of help in terms of understanding the private sector,” according to Young.  Two other vice presidential contenders, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, also sat on the panel along with Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who discussed the “necessity to get people to graduate from our technical colleges.”  Billionaire financier and Home Depot founder Ken Langone also spoke, and according to Conti, relayed a message for the current administration: “Leave us alone and let us hire people.”  Conti said Langone told the audience with today’s “regulations,” he would not be able to start Home Depot.

Media Insight Panel

Karl Rove, founder of American Crossroads and a former Bush strategist, was also on hand.  He spoke on a “media insight” panel and on another one examining Romney’s path to victory.  Rove, dressed in a blue blazer, told reporters his panel was “damn good,” before whizzing away on a golf cart.

Attendees said the panel was engaging and humorous, with Rove swearing up a storm and regaling the crowd with funny stories.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz told reporters both Rove and GOP strategist Mary Matalin were making the crowd howl, telling them about when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a friend with bird-shot pellets on a hunting trip.

“He was on full display,” Chaffetz said of Rove.

It wasn’t all joking, though.  According to Young and his wife, Rove said, “We had to focus on some particular groups, such as some Republicans that didn’t vote in the last election,” including focusing on women.  It’s unclear whether Rove was also soliciting donations as he mingled with attendees over the weekend.

Campaign Debrief

Donors didn't just listen to the top leaders and thinkers of the Republican Party.  They also received a briefing by the Romney senior staff, including campaign manager Matt Rhoades, senior strategist Stuart Stevens, and longtime adviser Beth Myers, who is heading up the vice presidential selection process.  They described the campaign’s “10 a.m. meeting,” according to Chaffetz, who attended.

“I think people were fascinated by that,” Chaffetz said.  “They spent a good half hour showing them how they would do that, and what they would talk about and how they review the numbers and talk about messaging and develop that into a cohesive message that’s not only earned media but also paid media and other types of things.  That was really different than I think that most people thought.”

Chaffetz added that they went through “the analysis of what’s going on in the media, looking at polling, looking at all the different facets.”

Condoleezza Rice’s Show-Stealing Lunch

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was very well received, with almost every donor saying her speech was the highlight of the weekend.  She spoke with no notes and received a sustained standing ovation when she was done, according to several attendees.

Charles Cobb, who served as ambassador to Iceland from 1989 to 1992, said Rice was “spectacular” and described her as a “very bright, sophisticated, articulate lady.”

Husband-and-wife donors from Los Angeles who did not want to be identified said Rice’s message was one of “America needing to take charge.”

“We can’t stand by and let things happen,” the wife said.  “If we do, someone else will take that leadership role.”

They both described her address as an “impassioned plea” for the country to “stand up and take charge.”

Donor Kent Lucken, an international banker in Boston who moved back to his home state of Iowa for six weeks before the caucuses to help Romney, said “she rocked it.”

Jeb Bush Rounds Out the Night

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke at the final reception on Saturday, and as donors were leaving to go to private dinners at restaurants and residences around town, one fundraiser from Greenwich, Conn., said Bush told the crowd “the country was only growing at 2 percent when we could be growing at 4 percent.  If the country was growing at 4 percent we could add on another country the size of Germany to the United States.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


VP Beat: Potential Picks Gather, Rubio Explains His Absence

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- 'VEEPS' DO PARK CITY: A number of vice presidential contenders are set to descend on Park City, Utah, this weekend for the exclusive donor retreat hosted by Mitt Romney, giving them the chance to show off their skills with donors and potentially get in some time with the candidate himself. ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe has the details here.

RUBIO CHOOSES KIDS OVER DONOR RETREAT: Sen. Marco Rubio wasn’t willing to compromise his family time to appear at a mega-donor retreat in Utah this week. “I’ve been on the road since Sunday with the book thing. I have to go to Orlando tomorrow for a speech, I have to be back in D.C. on Monday, on Sunday, on Meet the Press.  And then I have a whole other week here. If I had gone to Utah, I wouldn’t see my kids for 15 days,” Rubio told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington Thursday. “I had a choice to make, and I chose my kids. And that’s what the book talks about and I guess when you make those choices, then whatever the consequences are. But I know that 30 years from now, no one will ever remember that report, but my kids will remember that I was home on Saturday.”

RUBIO CALLS ON HOLDER TO RESIGN:  Rubio became the second senator to call on Attorney General Holder to resign. “Yes, I do at this point, I do,” Rubio answered when asked at The Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington  Thursday if the attorney general should step down. “I think we’ve now reached a point of no return on this issue.”  

JEB BUSH’S PRAISE FOR ROMNEY, ‘COMMON GROUND’ WITH OBAMA’: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke in English and Spanish to a crowd at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Orlando Thursday, offering praise for Romney ‘s earlier speech and citing the “common ground” he has with President Obama,” ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe reported. “Mitt Romney may have encountered a tough crowd addressing a group of Latinos Thursday, but former Florida Governor Jeb Bush transitioned easily from Spanish to English and drew loud applause on the issue of education reform and school choice – and complimented the presumptive Republican nominee’s rival, President Obama,” Walshe wrote. “At the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials or NALEO in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.,  Bush began by giving Romney a nod. ‘We heard an excellent speech, I thought, from Mitt Romney, who is a supporter of education reform and of school choice,’ Bush said. However, in his next breath he aligned himself with Romney’s rival and repeated what has gained him headlines over the last few weeks, but he deeply believes in: Working across party lines works as well as having a more open debate. ‘I am proud of the fact that as a former governor I was asked by [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan to introduce our current president of the United States in a high school in Miami because we share common ground,” Bush said to cheers from the crowd. “And I don’t know about you, but when we find common ground we shouldn’t fight anymore, we should move on and build on that success. Apparently one can get in trouble when they say these kinds of things, but I happen to believe it’s the American way. There is enough to fight about … to me it’s important that we begin to focus on how do we build capacity for the next generation to maintain the greatness of our country.’ ”


THE VP GUESSING GAME: Real Clear Politics looks at the history of vice presidential picks and how if history repeats itself, the guesses we’re making today about Romney’s running mate will turn out to be wrong.  “While every eventual GOP nominee in the past five nonincumbent presidential cycles began the race as a favorite, the same cannot be said of their VP picks, all of whom were initially regarded inside the Beltway echo chamber either as blips on the political radar or not on the screen at all,” Scott Conroy wrote.

IT’S OFFICIAL: DANIELS OUT OF POLITICS: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was officially appointed head of Purdue University in Indiana Thursday, and the Indianapolis Star reported that there’s one thing he’s completely ready to shed: his life in politics. “There is one other change that impacts Daniels and Republicans more than Boilermakers: He’s bowing out of partisan political activity,” The Indianapolis Star reported. “He’ll do one final event — a fundraising event Monday in Wisconsin for former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is running for the U.S. Senate. But he said he’ll do no other fundraising, no speaking at campaign events or commercials and will skip the Republican National Convention this summer. It’s a huge change for a man who a year ago was being pressured to run for the presidency himself.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Utah Senate Race Hits Final Days Amid GOP Confab in Deer Valley

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and fellow Republican Party leaders prepare to convene in Deer Valley, Utah, this weekend for what is shaping up to be the second biggest power gathering of the summer (after the convention, of course), the Utah GOP will have its focus turned on another race -- the Senate primary.

Longtime incumbent Orrin Hatch faces a primary challenge from former state senator and Tea Party candidate Dan Liljenquist, and this weekend marks the final slog before the contest, which will take place on Tuesday, June 26.

Hatch, 78, is currently tied for the title of longest-serving Republican senator -- a distinction he shares with outgoing Sen. Richard Lugar.  He serves as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he’s been in the Senate for 36 years.  His opponent was a 1-year-old when Hatch was first elected to represent the state.

But Hatch faces a problem shared by many of his Republican colleagues in Congress -- an energetic Tea Party challenger.  Hatch was narrowly forced into a primary in April after Liljenquist scored the support of 41 percent of the delegates at Utah’s Republican convention.  Under Utah’s rules, Hatch would have had to receive the support of at least 60 percent of the delegates in order to avoid a runoff.

Liljenquist checks off many of the typical Tea Party boxes: He’s a fierce advocate of less spending who has received the backing of the Tea Party group “FreedomWorks,” and he was endorsed by Rick Santorum.  The rhetoric in the primary has followed similar lines to other Tea-Party-vs.-establishment primary battles we’ve seen so far,  with Liljenquist alleging Hatch is not a true conservative and Hatch saying that he is.

Hatch did earn a distinction not common among the “establishment” candidates -- the endorsement of Sarah Palin.  The woman who is viewed by many as a sort of Tea Party kingmaker described him as “part of the 1 percent of national politicians who I think should be re-elected.”

Hatch has had a major financial advantage over Liljenquist.  He’s raised just less than $10 million, while Liljenquist has raised a little under $1 million, and Hatch has outspent his Tea Party challenger by a 10-to-1 margin.

Hatch also has had another tool in his arsenal -- Mitt Romney.

Romney is very popular in Utah.  In 2008, he won the state’s Republican primary with 89 percent of the vote, and there’s no indication that his popularity has diminished since then.  He endorsed Hatch early, and he appeared in a TV ad supporting the six-term incumbent in March, ahead of the state convention.  He’s campaigned for Hatch in the state more recently, as well.

Liljenquist has attempted to tie himself to Romney as well.  Liljenquist worked for Bain Consulting, an arm of Bain Capital, for several years in the early 2000s, after Romney had left the company, a work experience that he’s highlighted throughout his campaign.

It appears as though Romney won’t be doing any campaigning with Hatch over the weekend.  He has no public events scheduled while in Utah.  Polling indicates that won’t be a problem for Hatch, however.  He appears to have a solid lead over Liljenquist headed into Tuesday’s contest.

The Utah primary will also mark the very end of the 2012 GOP presidential primary cycle.  Utah is the final state to hold a Republican presidential contest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Campaigns for Hatch in Utah, Against Former Bain Consultant

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Mitt Romney is campaigning for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in the senator’s home state Friday, although the six-term Senate incumbent may not need Romney’s help.

After holding campaign events in Iowa on Friday, Romney travels to Salt Lake City for a photo-op with the long-time senator, who ties with the recently ousted Dick Lugar of Indiana as the longest-serving Republican in the Senate.

Like Lugar and former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, Hatch faces a Tea Party challenger who’s backed by the D.C. group FreedomWorks. Both Lugar and Bennett fell to such challengers, Bennett at the Utah state convention in May 2010 and Lugar in May of this year.

Romney was scheduled to meet Hatch at a private airport in Salt Lake City, where the former was already scheduled for high-dollar fundraisers Friday evening.

In early May, Hatch announced that he had been tapped to become a "special policy adviser” to the Romney campaign. Romney filmed a television ad for Hatch last March and also recorded a radio ad for him.

Romney campaigned for Bennett in 2010, without success for the senator. Romney introduced Bennett at the state convention, where Tea Party candidates Mike Lee (now the state’s junior Republican senator) and Tim Bridgewater knocked Bennett off the primary ballot after multiple rounds of convention voting.

“Today he faces an uphill battle at this convention. Some may disagree with a handful of his votes or simply want a new face, but with the sweep and arrogance of the liberal onslaught today in Washington, we need Bob Bennett’s skill and intellect and loyalty and power,” Romney said at the time. His praise for Bennett drew a mixture of cheers and boos.

At the time, Romney’s endorsement of Bennett entailed a hint of political risk. Tea Partiers had yet to warm up to Romney and questioned his conservative dedication through the early parts of the 2012 campaign despite his late outreach. Even so, Romney’s warm greeting at the 2010 convention suggested he is perhaps immune to such risks in Utah.

Hatch’s challenger is Dan Liljenquist, a state senator and, ironically for Romney, a former Bain consultant. Liljenquist worked for Bain’s consulting group, not its private-equity practice where Romney made his name, for two years after law school.

Hatch, however, is better positioned than Bennett or Lugar were. He failed to secure enough votes at the Utah state convention to prevent a June 26 primary, but polling shows him well ahead.

While Bennett (and perhaps less so, Lugar) seemed caught off-guard by their Tea Party challengers, Hatch set to work more aggressively in guarding his re-election chances. He also caught a break when Tea Party-aligned Rep. Jason Chaffetz declined to run against him. Such a challenge would have likely caused second thoughts by other conservatives such as the Club for Growth, which often joins with FreedomWorks to air TV ads on behalf of primary challengers but which is sometimes more selective than other conservative groups in choosing whom to support. The Club sat out Utah’s 2012 GOP Senate primary.

In 2012, even Sarah Palin endorsed Hatch. While it’s always a story when a prominent Republican sides against Tea Partiers in a hotly contested primary, the currently one-sided state of Utah’s primary makes Romney’s appearance for Hatch a relatively noncontroversial one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Palin Backs Orrin Hatch in Utah GOP Senate Primary

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin abandoned her tendency to go with the Tea Party choice, instead backing six-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch over state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in the Utah Senate GOP primary and calling him “Mr. Balanced Budget for Utah” in a Facebook post Tuesday night.  Liljenquist is backed by several Tea Party groups including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth.

“Orrin Hatch is part of the 1 percent,” the statement reads.  “No, not that 1 percent you’ve heard about.  He’s part of the 1 percent of national politicians who I think should be re-elected.  Orrin Hatch is a life-long conservative whose dedication and devotion to the conservative cause and to his beloved and beautiful state of Utah is well documented.”

“Orrin was a Utah state campaign chairman for a fledgling and failing presidential candidate deemed ‘too conservative’ and ‘unelectable’ by the media.  Ironically, that candidate was the man who restored our country to be a ‘shining city on a hill’ -- Ronald Reagan,” the statement went on to say.

The photo with the endorsement is of a young Hatch with Reagan.

Palin praised Hatch in the post, writing “long before the issue of debt was on the forefront of Americans’ minds, Orrin Hatch knew our government would face insolvency if we did not get our budget under control.”

“We know he will use his seniority and influence to dissuade politicians from continuing to raise the debt ceiling without any plan to balance the budget and end these dangerously unsustainable deficits,” Palin says.

Palin has been on a mini-streak of backing upstart candidates over the establishment choices, including the Tea Party’s Richard Mourdock over Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana (Lugar lost) and Deb Fischer’s surprise primary win in Nebraska.  She has also backed the underdog in the Texas Senate GOP primary, Ted Cruz.

But not this time.  In her post, she writes that perhaps Hatch can show them around the Senate, if they all get there.

“We need Orrin’s conservative Reagan-like leadership -- and our new crop of conservative senators Richard Mourdock, Deb Fischer, and Ted Cruz might need some friendly advice finding their way around the Senate,” Palin writes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Utah Primary Check Bounces

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may not appear on the ballot for the June 26 Utah primary, after a $500 check -- the required filing fee -- bounced, an official said.

State election director Mark Thomas told ABC News that a $500 check given by the Gingrich campaign to secure his place on the Utah ballot bounced on March 27.

“Our office immediately attempted to contact the campaign and the designated agent but no phone calls were returned,” Thomas said. “We also asked the state Republican Party to assist us, but they also could not get into communication with them, although I do not know how they attempted to contact them.”

One source close to the campaign told ABC News that the Gingrich campaign recently changed finance and accounting staff. The designated agent who filed the paperwork for the campaign was Wallace Woodruff “Woody” Hales, though Hales still works for the Gingrich campaign.

If the fee is not paid by April 20, Gingrich will be disqualified from the ballot.

“Our office certifies the candidates to the county clerks on April 24,” Thomas said.

The check bounce comes as no surprise as Gingrich confirmed a debt of almost $4.5 million to ABC News on Tuesday. The last Federal Election Commission report from February showed a debt of less than $2 million.

Gingrich told ABC News Tuesday that the debt increase was because the campaign got “very excited in Florida” after his South Carolina win.

“Romney spent $20 million in Florida in three weeks and I think some of our guys decided to try to match him and we didn’t have Wall Street,” Gingrich said. “I am going to spend some time paying it off. It is something I have done several times in my career.”

Gingrich said his campaign did “exactly what a conservative should do” who is in debt.

“We cut our expenses, we cut our staff, we are now in the process of paying it off but I think what happened is, they got really involved in the fight in Florida and didn’t stop and just say to themselves, ‘Wait a second.’ I can beat Mitt Romney in ideas, I can’t possibly compete with him in money,” Gingrich said.

On the day Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, Gingrich sent an email to supporters saying he was “the last conservative standing.” The campaign emailed to voters that the goal was to achieve 12,000 donations by midnight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio