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Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, told reporters in Washington, D.C., that he supports Gov. Michael Dukakis for the Democratic presidential nomination and lauded what he called Dukakis' "belief in family values."

He said he would welcome an opportunity to explain Western issues, such as reserved water rights and multiple use, to the Massachusetts governor.Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo.; Owens, and five other congressional Democrats gave Dukakis their endorsements during a Senate news conference. Wirth stumbled by calling reserved water rights an "obscure issue" that Dukakis might someday learn something about.

Owens said he did not think water rights and multiple use were all that obscure. He added that he did not think the Sagebrush Rebellion would rise up again in the West to hurt Democrats.

"The Sagebrush Rebellion doesn't have that much force any more," Owens said. "Relations with the federal government are being made workable to the people of Utah."

Asked by reporters if the endorsements were a "stop Jackson" effort, Owens replied that "really what this is, is a case of the train is leaving the station and it's time for us to get on board" the Dukakis bandwagon.