Jason Chaffetz scheduled to make fundraising stop in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Jason Chaffetz scheduled to make fundraising stop in Park City

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Jason Chaffetz, the conservative Republican congressman widely talked about as a challenger to Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012, is scheduled to hold a fundraiser in Park City next month.

The visit will come amid the long-running speculation about Chaffetz’s political ambitions. The event, though, is being billed as a standard fundraiser instead of one in anticipation of a Senate campaign. Chaffetz represents Utah’s 3rd District in Congress.

Chaffetz said on Thursday Park City is a "great place to go" to hold a fundraiser and his team has scheduled the events in Park City before. He said he does not anticipate making a public statement about the prospects of a Senate campaign until after Labor Day.

He was unsure how much money will be raised at the Park City event but expected there will be a broad array of Utahns in attendance. Chaffetz said he will deliver a political speech stressing fiscal discipline, limited government and a strong national defense.

Promotional material announcing the event indicates people will pay $1,000 per couple to attend. The event is scheduled on Aug. 12 at a private residence in Deer Valley. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a congressman from Florida, is also slated to appear at the event.

Joe Wrona, a Park City attorney who is one of the organizers of the Chaffetz event, declined to discuss a dollar amount that could be raised. He said, though, there is a "large, quiet population of political conservatives" in Park City and Summit County. The event is scheduled at the house of a husband and wife who are Wrona clients.

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"I’m impressed with his political skills. I think he has a bright future," Wrona said, adding, "He is the kind of person that I would like to see at the forefront of the Republican Party."

Chaffetz has not appeared on a ballot in Summit County, and it is not clear what sort of political support he would attract locally. The 3rd District that he represents included Park City and surrounding Summit County prior to the congressional lines being redrawn after the 2000 census. Many Republicans in Summit County, particularly those in the Park City area, are moderates. Wrona said Chaffetz appeals to both conservative and moderate Republicans.

The potential contest between Chaffetz and Hatch for the Republican nomination in the 2012 Senate campaign has garnered widespread attention even though Chaffetz has not declared himself a candidate. The defeat of longtime Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010, in a loss to a conservative challenger within the Republican Party, put a spotlight on a possible Chaffetz-Hatch matchup. The overwhelming Republican majority in Utah makes the person who emerges with the GOP nomination the de facto winner of the seat given there is little likelihood a Democrat or a candidate from a third party could win on Election Day.

In a visit to Wanship in late 2010, Hatch distanced himself from Bennett, saying he was a different sort of politician and claiming that Utahns should not want to lose him from the Senate.

Park City in the last decade has become a popular fundraising stop for politicians, drawn by the well-heeled population of full-time Parkites and vacation-home owners.