In politics, there's always jockeying behind the scenes. The current hotbed for such intrigue is Salt Lake's 2nd Congressional District where Republicans are looking at the 1990 race, now less than six months away.

New faces are emerging and old ones fading.This week Genevieve Atwood said she's resigning as director of the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey with an interest in running against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.

Local attorney and long-time GOP worker Randall Mackey confirms he's considering the race.

While Rep. Craig Moody, R-Sandy, who has previously said he's considering challenging Owens, now appears to be taking a step back.

Atwood considered running against Owens in 1988. Moody, then state GOP chairman, conducted a poll of 2nd District residents aimed at finding the best possible candidate to run against Owens - the lone Democrat in the state delegation. The survey showed Owens would be most vulnerable to a challenge by a moderate woman.

Atwood, who served several terms in the Utah House of Representatives from the Avenues area of Salt Lake City in the 1970s, fit that bill. She chose not to run last time around, however.

Now she's reconsidering but making no promises.

Mackey says he's made no firm decisions yet, either.

"But I think if someone is going to get in this race, the sooner the better," he says.

Mackey says Republicans in general, and especially the two previous challengers to Owens - Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu in 1986 and state GOP chairman Richard Snelgrove in 1988 - misjudged Owens' political strength.

"More than 95 percent of incumbents (in the U.S. House) get re-elected if they choose to run again," says Mackey. Owens has proved his fund-raising powers - he's raised between $650,000 and $710,000 in his last two races - and can certainly repeat that in 1990.

Because the 2nd District is 2-1 Republican, some Republicans have assumed a good, articulate Republican candidate can easily beat Owens. But it will take more than that, Mackey believes.

"We have to have a good party organization behind a good candidate."

In the past, congressional races have mostly been on their own for fund-raising. The state party's money has gone, instead, to legislative contests.

This year will mark a change. Snelgrove, who was outspent almost 3-1 by Owens, says while the party's statewide campaign plan for 1990 hasn't yet been written, "the 2nd District race will get a large portion" of whatever is raised.