Might the road to the White House wind through Park City again? | ParkRecord.com
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Might the road to the White House wind through Park City again?

The road to the White House went through Park City last time around.

It isn’t yet clear whether the road will wind its way to Park City again during the 2012 presidential election cycle. In the 1 1/2 years before Election Day in 2008, there was a series of high-profile fundraising stops in Park City and the Snyderville Basin, surprising many Parkites not used to seeing some of the biggest names in politics in person.

Barack Obama came by. Rudy Giuliani visited. President Bush hit the town on behalf of the Republicans. Mitt Romney, once a Park City homeowner, had the city on his schedule.

The slate of potential candidates on the Republican side in 2012 points to there possibly being some action in Park City again, says the leader of the Utah Republican Party. Thomas Wright, the chairman of the state GOP, anticipates some of the Republicans who will be seeking the party’s nomination will make appearances in Park City.

If they visit Utah, he says, Park City could be one of their destinations while in the state. He says Park City, the wealthiest community in the state and place where well-heeled people own vacation homes, is the "most logical place to have a fundraiser."

"They will be coming to Park City. I don’t know of any exact dates or time," he says, adding, "I think it’s obvious. Park City has a lot of wealth . . . Candidates follow the money."

Wright says he has not heard chatter about upcoming campaign stops in Park City. But he expects any stops to be early in the campaign, probably as soon as this summer. Later this year and in the early months of 2012, the candidates will be spending much of their time in states with early primaries and caucuses, he says.

He especially sees there being a good chance of Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. — both with ties to Park City — making local stops if they mount campaigns. Romney is a former homeowner and spent extensive time in Park City during his days leading the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Huntsman family has a longtime presence in Park City.

The candidates see Park City as a place that could be a lucrative stop on the fundraising trail even if it is not in a swing state where an appearance could sway masses of undecided voters. Fundraising trips to Park City, easily accessible from the Salt Lake City airport, could be scheduled as part of a broader itinerary in the Mountain West or the West Coast. Wright went to the fundraiser with Giuliani in attendance in 2007, saying that there were people from across the United States at the event.

The prospects of presidential hopefuls stopping in Park City depend on the fundraising success their handlers would anticipate during an event in the city. Kirk Jowers, the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, agrees with the state Republican chairman that Parkites are more apt to see Huntsman or Romney, if they mount campaigns, than they are politicians who will be running without ties to the state.

"The other candidates will most likely cede Utah to them," Jowers, a longtime Romney supporter, says. "I don’t expect a play by the other candidates."

Jowers predicts would-be organizers of fundraisers in Park City will need to guarantee a certain amount of money will be brought in during an event, with the president commanding the most. He does not envision Obama stopping in Park City unless he could raise at least $150,000 alongside a sister event in Salt Lake City that would bring in a significant dollar amount as well.

Romney would want to amass more than $100,000 in a Park City event while Huntsman would expect to bring in at least $50,000 if he holds a Park City fundraiser, Jowers says.

"I think with Huntsman and Romney, you have a much better chance because they have such a deep connection in Park City," he says. "Beyond them, the odds are pretty low."


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