Has Genevieve Atwood been bragging about her personal wealth?
Is Wayne Owens snide and unkind?The two 2nd Congressional District candidates started meeting face-to-face in debates Tuesday, and it's clear Atwood is going to take Owens on, equally clear he'll give as good as he takes. They'll debate nearly a dozen times between now and Tuesday's election. The latest polls have Owens leading Atwood, but Atwood says she's closing.
With the campaign shortened to just a week - shortened by Owens' extended stay in Washington, D.C., because of the budget crisis - there's no time to waste. Atwood, the Republican challenger, and Owens, the incumbent Democrat, can't afford pleasant banter in debates. It's hit-and-run from the outset.
Here are some highlights in debates before students at LDS Business College and the Salt Lake Rotary Club:
- After Atwood accused Owens of being a big-spending Democrat, Owens replied: "In just four years at the head of the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, Genevieve had spent $200,000 over her budget, doubled the staff and increased her budget by 64 percent. She says she'd cut the federal budget, but she didn't cut that budget. Like any good bureaucrat, she built a kingdom."
- Atwood: "Wayne Owens has had an actual negative impact on Congress - not a good impact as he claims. He voted 96 percent of the time with the Democratic leadership. He calls his first budget vote courageous, yet says the compromise stunk, that he didn't like it. I don't call that courageous. I call it carrying the party line."
- Owens: "It's not important how much I supported the Democratic leadership - I voted 50 percent of the time with the Republican leadership - what's important is how often the Democratic leadership supported me - how effective I was." Owens said the huge Central Utah Project refunding bill "was dead five times, and I resurrected it five times - that's effective."
- Atwood: "Wayne says, `Judge me on the CUP.' I do. He didn't deliver. It died in the Congress. I say we could take over the CUP and finish it ourselves. There are half a dozen ways to finish the project."
- Owens: "The CUP is approaching $1 billion in cost. We couldn't finish it ourselves, it would place a great burden on Utahns. I'm disappointed it died one hour before adjournment. But, as (Sen.) Jake Garn says, we'll re-introduce it the first day of the new Congress, and we'll succeed."
- Atwood: "Is Wayne truly effective for Utah? Eighty percent of the bills he sponsors died. Even as a minority member I could get through bills like the Philo Farnsworth statue or renaming the Federal Building."
- Atwood: "Congress has given itself a pay raise, putting them in the top 1 percent of wage-earners. Wayne raises taxes on middle-income Americans and at the same time takes a 40 percent increase in pay? Outrageous!"
- Owens: "Yes, I voted for ethics reform, to give up honorariums (paid speeches) and have the taxpayer make up the difference. Genevieve has bragged about her (personal) wealth." Atwood interrupted, saying: "Give me a break, I did not."
"But," continued Owens, "the budget compromise isn't about wealth, not the rich against the poor, it's about being fair."
- Atwood: "I oppose the Family Leave Act (which allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave for any employee in a firm employing 50 or more) because I'm convinced managers would discriminate against women, not hire them in managerial positions."
- Owens: "That is a major difference between us. Genevieve's position is indefensible statistically and logically. There's never been any study to suppose that's the case. Every major industrial country gives such leave. No one, man or woman, should, in times of family medical emergencies, have to chose between their family and their job."
In closing the debate before the students, Owens said, "You've seen the dark side of us today. I've dealt with women's and family issues like no other Utah congressman has ever done. I take the tough stands. She just pretends."
Countered Atwood: "I've never bragged about my wealth. Years ago my dad and I put $10,000 in the stock market. Today it's worth $300,000. If Wayne had been as smart, maybe he wouldn't be so worried about his financial future. His remarks are snide, unkind. He's given body blows. He does it because his job is threatened, and it should be, because he hasn't done a good job for you."