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Danny Ainge helps at fundraiser for son in congressional race

By Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | Aug 7, 2017
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Danny Ainge, father of 3rd Congressional District candidate Tanner Ainge and general manager of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics gets dunked during a fundraiser Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Orem. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Danny Ainge, father of 3rd Congressional District candidate Tanner Ainge and general manager of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics gets dunked during a fundraiser Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Orem. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Oliver Ainge listens on as Tanner Ainge, 3rd Congressional District of Utah candidate speaks to a small crowd Monday, August 7, 2017 in Orem. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Tanner Ainge, 3rd Congressional District of Utah and his father Danny Ainge pose for photos Monday, August 7, 2017 in Orem. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Kids peak into a dunk tank during a fundraiser for Tanner Ainge, a 3rd Congressional District candidate Monday, August 7, 2017 in Orem. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

It’s not every day that a congressional candidate gets his dad in a dunk tank to help raise money for his campaign. However, on Monday, Tanner Ainge got his big fish dad to drop into a little pool.

Danny Ainge, former Brigham Young University basketball hero and president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, was on hand for one last campaign fundraiser referred to as Dunk Danny.

Tanner Ainge, running for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District against Provo Mayor John Curtis and former state Rep. Chris Herrod, said, “My dad is willing to make a fool of himself for me.”

The candidate’s mother, Michelle Toolson Ainge, introduced him at the event. The attendance was a modest 50 to 75 friends, family, campaign workers and a few curiosity seekers.

Guests who donated $25 or more were able to take a swing to see if they could trigger the button and drop Danny Ainge in the dunk tank. Those contributing $10 had their names put into a raffle to see who would snatch up five BYU basketballs signed by Danny Ainge.

In the waning days of the primary campaign, Tanner Ainge has garnered great financial support from his parents. Both Danny and Michelle Ainge have donated the maximum individual contribution of $2,700 each to his campaign.

Michelle Ainge, whose occupation is listed on some federal election receipts as homemaker, also donated a total of $250,000 to Conservative Utah — a political action committee that has run ads supporting Tanner Ainge. According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, that is the bulk of the $290,000 raised by the Washington, D.C.-based super PAC through July 26.

On his most recent campaign finance report, Ainge’s committee reported receiving $90,435 in campaign donations through June 30.

In recent days, questions have risen concerning the length of time Tanner has lived in Utah.

Ainge says he represents Utah.

“I’ve had ties to the state of Utah my whole life,” he said. “This is where we’ve always wanted to raise our kids.”

Ainge, 33, said that while he didn’t grow up in Utah because he was following his dad around, attending BYU was a transformative part of his life. He also started his business career in Sandy.

Tanner and his family moved backed to Utah in November.

When former Congressman Jason Chaffetz announced he would be vacating his seat, Ainge felt it was the right time to run for Congress.

Now that the last week of campaigning before the primary has arrived, all candidates are hoping for just that last bit of financing to push them through.

Opponents Herrod and Curtis have held their own recent fundraisers. Herrod hosted senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz at a July 29 event, and Curtis will be at an event Tuesday with Scott Anderson, president of Zions Bank.

“They’re well-funded,” Ainge said, noting that Herrod had received a lot of money from out-of-state donors and that Curtis isn’t hurting either.

Now Ainge said he will be going door-to-door for votes. Ainge is hoping to pick up undecided voters like Steve Udall.

Udall came from Sandy to Orem on Monday to take a look for himself and listen to what Tanner Ainge had to say.

“I haven’t been terribly impressed with the other two guys,” Udall said. “I was a delegate and voted for Chris Herrod at the convention. He did a great job speaking.”

However, Udall said he would like to see someone younger, who hasn’t been influenced by Washington.

Udall said he’s a cousin to the famous Arizona politicians Morris and Stewart Udall; both very well-known Democrats. Steve Udall said his side of the family went Republican, and he considers himself moderate to conservative.

Tanner Ainge spent most of his time shaking hands and talking with those attending and with the media who seemingly were there more to see Danny Ainge get wet than Tanner pick up votes.

The primary election for the Republican nomination is Aug. 15. The winner will advance to the Nov. 7 primary where he face Democratic candidate Kathryn Allen and third-party candidates.

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