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HANSEN HOLDS LEAD OVER POTENTIAL CHALLENGER

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First District Rep. Jim Hansen holds a comfortable lead over the Democratic state legislator most often mentioned as his challenger next year, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.

The early matchup against state Rep. Grant Protzman, D-North Ogden, gives Hansen, a Republican, a 62-20 percent lead, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found.Protzman said he's leaning toward running against Hansen in the 1st District, which takes in the populous Davis and Weber counties and northern and western Utah.

"The political groundwork (to run) is well-laid, it's the personal, family side that I'm still considering," Protzman said. He may announce within two weeks, he added.

The poll was conducted before Kenley Brunsdale, administrative assistant to Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said he was considering running against Hansen as well. Accordingly, Jones didn't match Brunsdale against Hansen.

Aides to Hansen were contacted concerning the poll, but Hansen saw no need to comment.

Hansen has to be pleased, however. Protzman, Brunsdale or almost any other new Democratic face is a preferable challenger to Gunn McKay, Hansen's former challenger,and polling history shows that.

At this same time in 1987, a Jones poll found that Hansen led McKay only 45-43 percent a year before the 1988 elections. McKay went on to run against Hansen, but lost to the congressman in November 1988, 60-40 percent.

In 1980, Hansen unseated the then-10-year incumbent McKay. In 1982 and 1984 Hansen had easy re-elections in the predominantly Republican district.

But McKay returned to challenge Hansen in 1986. In a close race, Hansen beat McKay by 3 percentage points. He beat McKay again in 1988, that time by 10 points. It appears McKay won't challenge Hansen again, giving the congressman hope that 1990 will bring a return to the easier re-election contests.

Protzman said he's pleased with his 20 percent showing. "For a little-known Democrat, that is very good for me," he said.

In the latest poll, Jones found that 39 percent said if the election were today they'd definitely vote for Hansen, 23 percent said they'd probably vote for Hansen, 10 percent said they'd probably vote for Protzman and 10 percent said they'd definitely vote for Protzman. Two percent said they'd vote for someone else and 16 percent didn't know who they'd vote for, Jones found.

"The fact that only 39 percent are solidly for Hansen gives me encouragement," said Protzman. "A 10-year Republican incumbent in a 2-1 Republican district should be doing better than that. There's a definite weakness there," he said.

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(POLL)

If the election were held today for the 1st Congressional District, for whom would you vote?

Definitely Hansen.....39 percent

Probably Hansen.....23 percent

Probably Protzman.....10 percent

Definitely Protzman.....10 percent

Other.....2 percent

Don't know.....16 percent

Sample size: 208; margin of error plus or minus 6 percent