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CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS BARRED FROM SPEAKING AT S.L. COUNTY CONVENTION

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Several 3rd District congressional candidates are angry over a decision by GOP leaders in Salt Lake County not to let them speak at the Salt Lake County convention June 2.

Peter Van Alstyne, Salt Lake County GOP chairman, said delegates won't have time for congressional candidates because they will be too busy listening to those running for legislative and county offices.Most of the congressional candidates, who will speak during Wednesday's Utah County convention, have spoken during conventions in the other 11 counties comprising the 3rd District.

"That's really an unfortunate situation," said candidate Steve Densley, president of the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce."I think they may be shooting themselves in the foot on that one. It (the congressional race) is one of the most important races in the state, and yet they're not giving us a chance to speak."

If candidates aren't allowed to address Salt Lake County delegates, many of whom double as state delegates, "It will play to the advantage of those who have inroads in Salt Lake County," said candidate John Harmer, board chairman of Eyring Inc. "It's a highly unusual decision."

With more than 200 state delegates at stake in Salt Lake County, congressional hopefuls had hoped for a chance to make a favorable impression at that county's convention.

"I'm surprised and disappointed that they're upset," said Van Alstyne, in defending the decision. He said the convention's primary purpose is to nominate legislative and county officers, not congressional candidates.

"We have so many candidates this year that there's a compelling need to bring the convention to a close at or around the noon hour. If we keep the program droning on, the delegates are going to go home. Then who's the loser?" he said.

"We wanted to keep our focus clear and concise. I'm rather surprised they (congressional candidates) haven't thought through what it is they're asking."