Although it's still early in the campaign season, indications are that Gov. Norm Bangerter's coattails
look a bit tattered and threadbare heading into November's general election.A recent poll showed Bangerter trailing Democratic challenger Ted Wilson by a 2-1 ratio, and some have wondered aloud if the governor's woes might be affecting the campaigns of fellow Republican officeholders in a number of other key state races.
A Deseret News/KSL poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates last month shows that State Treasurer Edward T. Alter and State Auditor Tom L. Allen are indeed being pushed to the limit by their respective Democratic challengers, Arthur L. Monson and James W. Davis.
The poll shows Davis, the popular longtime South Salt Lake mayor, trails Allen by a single point, 24 percent to 23 percent, despite not having formally announced his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Monson, who has served as the Salt Lake County treasurer for the past 14 years, holds a commanding lead over Alter, 48 percent to 18 percent, with 34 percent undecided.
Have Bangerter's problems filtered down?
State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi thinks so. "No doubt Bangerter's weakness is having an effect, but I think it can be credited just as much to the strength of the Democratic Party and the ticket we've assembled.
"The Republicans have had their day, and it's time to throw the rascals out," Horiuchi said, beating a familiar drum. "It's time for new leadership, and both Monson and Davis are proven officeholders."
State Republican Party Chairman Craig Moody doesn't think that's the case at all, however.
"These are professional offices, and the people will learn that. You have Art Monson, who was investigated for misuse of funds and Jim Davis, who has never conducted an audit in his life _ and he's not a certified public accountant," Moody said.
"This is a question is one of name ID and that problem can and will be resolved as the campaigns go forward."
Monson, who said he's surprised and pleased with his early lead, is leaving speculation as to Bangerter's role in the campaign to the political pundits.
"It's an interesting thought, but the political experts know a lot more about that kind of stuff than I do. But I suppose it could be true," he said. "I do think it reflects people's recognition of my many years as Salt Lake County treasurer."
Alter, while not pleased with the poll results, agrees with Moody that his weak showing is fundamentally a name recognition problem. Nor does he think the governor's race will have much of an effect on other state races _ one way or another.
"Art Monson has been in the papers for years _ for better or for worse," he said. "But people don't remember why, just the name. Monson is a great name. I'm probably running against David (Monson), Thomas (S. Monson) and Art all in one." Alter said his job this campaign will be to get voters to recognize the name, "Ed Alter" and present the issues clearly and concisely.
In the auditor's race, Davis said, he's gratified to see this level of support so early in campaign _ especially since all he's done is file for office and still has not formally announced. "Considering I haven't done anything, I've got to be happy with the results."
Allen also said he feels pretty good about the poll.
"Jim Davis is a popular mayor who's had a higher profile than I've had," he said.
However, Allen believes once the message gets out that the state's AAA bonding rating might be in jeopardy if someone other than a CPA is elected to the office, he thinks his support will start to increase.
Allen is a CPA. Davis has an MBA.
If the election were held today for Utah State treasurer and the candidates were Edward T. Alter, Republican, and Arthur L. Monson, Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Alter 18 percent
Monson 48 percent
Other 0 percent
Don't know 34 percent
If the election were held today for Utah State Auditor and the candidates were Tom L. Allen, Republican, and James W. Davis, Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Allen 24 percent
Davis 23 percent
Other 1 percent
Don't know 52 percent
Sample size: 904; margin of error plus or minus 3 percent