Former GOP state Sen. Karl Snow and Democratic tax attorney Bill Orton lead their colleagues in the 3rd Congressional District races, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
But by far, most voters in the district don't know who they'll vote for in the race to succeed Rep. Howard Nielson, the GOP incumbent who is retiring.Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found in a recent survey that among the six candidates vying to succeed Nielson as the Republican Party nominee, Snow was favored by 13 percent, Steve Densley by 9 percent, Brent Morris by 5 percent, John Harmer and Dean Bristow by 4 percent each, and Richard Harrington by 1 percent.
But 64 percent said they didn't know which Republican they favored.
On the Democratic side, Orton was favored by 21 percent and T. John Baer by 6 percent. Seventy-three percent had no Democratic favorite, Jones found.
The 3rd District includes the southwest portion of Salt Lake County, all of Utah County and the rest of eastern and southeastern Utah.
Monday night's party caucuses are critical to the Republican candidates. At the GOP caucuses, delegates to the state convention will be picked. And it's those delegates that will vote on the six candidates in the June 16 convention at Cottonwood High School.
If one of the Republican or Democratic candidates can muster 70 percent of the delegate vote in his state convention, he's the party nominee and there's no primary election. If no one gets 70 percent, the top two candidates advance to the Sept. 11 party primary.
Utah has an open primary system. Anyone can vote in whichever party primary he wishes, although generally Democrats don't bother to go to the polls on primary day if only Republicans are holding a primary battle and vice versa.
Morris, a Utah County commissioner, is a bit of a maverick within the Republican Party and not a favorite of party leaders. Sporadic criticism by those leaders may be the reason Morris gets 5 percent support among all those polled and only 3 percent among those who say they're Republicans.
Snow, a Brigham Young University administrator, became the insider favorite soon after he announced. Densley, president of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, ran in 1982 for the newly created 3rd District congressional seat but was eliminated in the convention.
Harmer is a former California state senator and was Ronald Reagan's appointed lieutenant governor for a short time. Soon after moving to Utah, Harmer led the citizen fight to control cable TV programming and is now heading the National Center for Constitutional Studies (the old Freeman Institute).
Richard Harrington is a Provo attorney who recently rode horseback through central Utah to discuss environmental issues with voters. Bristow is a Payson physician.
On the Democratic side, Orton is a tax attorney with offices in Provo and Washington, D.C. Baer is a former Colorado legislator who lives in Moab.
If the Republican primary in the 3rd District were held today, who would you vote for?
Brent Morris 5 percent
Steve Densley 9 percent
John L. Harmer 4 percent
Richard Harrington 1 percent
Dean Bristow 4 percent
Karl Snow 13 percent
Don't know 64 percent
If the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District were held today, for whom would you vote?
T. John Baer 6 percent
Bill Orton 21 percent
Don't know 73 percent
Sample size: 194; margin of error plus or minus 7 percent