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Twenty-eight Utah Democratic delegates, some of their spouses and several staff assistants, along with members of the local media, are off to Atlanta this weekend for next week's Democratic National Convention.

With the presidential candidate already set - Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis - and with Dukakis already announcing his vice presidential choice - Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas - will the convention produce hard-hitting news?No.

Will it be boring?

Probably not.

When you get all of those political junkies in one place, especially junkies with the variety the Democrats always show, something strange will happen.

Even if the action on the convention floor isn't too great - and there could be some lively fights over the Democratic Party's national platform - there will be fun, fun, fun until daddy takes the shuttle bus away as the parties and tours run through the Thursday night finale.

Utah's delegation has some old-line Democrats - former Govs. Calvin L. Rampton and Scott M. Matheson and Salt Lake County Treasurer Art Monson. And it has some new faces - Jesse Jackson supporters Marvin Davis and Pete Suazo, to name a few.

Well-known defense attorney Ronald Yengich, who defended bomber Mark Hofmann and many other infamous criminals, is going as an alternate delegate.

Conspicuously absent from Atlanta will be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson and 1st District congressional candidate Gunn McKay. (Second District Rep. Wayne Owens will be going).

Aides for Wilson and McKay say the candidates won't attend for two reasons, both of them political.

First, the biggest rap Utah Democratic candidates take is the dreaded label - liberal. It certainly doesn't help, and may well hurt, a local Democratic candidate to be seen in some of the company kept at the national convention.

"A candidate like Ted or Gunn doesn't want to be seen or photographed among demonstrators for homosexual rights or abortion on demand," said one Democrat. "That doesn't play well at home."

Also, being at the convention and interviewed by local TV and press reporters - who will talk to anyone, especially the candidates, during the long boring speeches - ties a person to the convention itself.

Republicans will certainly take advantage of such an association should the national party platform take foreign policy or social issue stands that most Utahns dislike.

Second, leaving home gives your Republican opponent an open field for a week. Historically, political attacks come swift and hard the week of the opposing party's national convention.

While the candidate may be able to respond to such attacks via the media from the convention, if the attack is somehow associated with the perceived evils of your national party, defending yourself from the floor of that party's convention is even more difficult.

So Wilson and McKay will stay home and watch their backs.

Owens will go, however. He was picked as a super delegate to the convention by the national party, a bit of an honor. By the general delegate party rules, Utah really has only 27 delegates to the 4,162-delegate convention. Owens makes 28.

No doubt Owens' GOP opponent, Richard Snelgrove, will have a few words about the convention and Owens. But Owens has, sometimes to the chagrin of party leaders, never shied away from issues or appearances that, politically, would be better left alone.

For example, even though polls showed Utahns evenly split on military aid to the Contras, Owens took a strong stand against aid. That delighted GOP leaders, who believe his siding with House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, on the Central America peace process adds to the "liberal" label they want tacked on Owens.

Even though Utah's Democratic convention delegation is a lively bunch, and even with the possibility that Jackson may light up the event a bit, don't count on too much heart-pounding excitement in Atlanta.

The delegates - and, hopefully, the press - are going to have a lot more fun being there than the folks at home will have reading about and watching it.