The 3rd District congressional race grew to nine candidates on Wednesday with the addition of Democrat T. John Baer, a former Colorado legislator.
Baer, who has lived in Moab the past eight years, is the only candidate so far who doesn't live or work in Utah County. He announced his candidacy Wednesday in Salt Lake City."We need one representative from the rural areas to round things out,"
said Baer, a semi-retired farmer who spent five terms in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1965-75. "The rural areas need the cities, and the cities need the rural areas."
Baer is the third Democrat to file for the 3rd District seat and the ninth candidate overall.
In an interview with the Deseret News, Baer praised outgoing Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, and Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. However, he said it's time 3rd District voters in rural Utah were better represented in Washington, D.C.
"Howard Nielson has been a good congressman. His views are a lot closer to mine than those of the 2nd District congressman (Wayne Owens)," he said.
"I'm common people. I think we've gotten too far away from that, particularly in the last 15 years. We've got too many far-lefts and too many far-rights, and we need to get back to where we used to be."
In addition to providing voters with more balanced representation, Baer said he would be more effective than Nielson because he is a member of the House majority party.
Calling himself a "pretty conservative Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln Democrat," Baer plans to center his congressional campaign on issues central to the 3rd District, including water issues and the proposed proliferation of wilderness areas.
"We don't need wilderness areas in the coal country," he said, noting he is "sick and tired" of government agencies and bureaucrats whose decisions have hurt the state's mining and timber industries, agriculture and ranching.
"The Bureau of Land Management and the Farm Home Administration should be abolished. I'm going to work to get them out of business."
Baer said he has several years experience working with water issues, laws and problems, has served on many water and agriculture committees and is well acquainted with problems and challenges involving Colorado River water.
"I'm a water expert," he said. "I do understand water."
Baer said he also wants the opportunity to help make Congress more responsive to voters and less responsive to dollars. For the past 25 years, he said, legislators have been pawns of special interest groups.
"We don't really have a democracy whenever our Congress and presidency are bought and paid for by special interest groups."
Baer said serving in Congress will give him an opportunity to tackle problems facing the 3rd District and help improve the district's quality of life.
"I care about people and I care about their problems," he said. "I won't give you the runaround."
Baer said there's one more reason he's running.
"I also want to learn to play golf, and I want to play with Dan Quayle," he said. "He can teach me about golf, and I can teach him about government."