Genevieve Atwood is out to make modern Utah political history.
She's a woman and a non-Mormon trying to win the Republican Party's 2nd Congressional District nomination. And she's trying to beat Mormon male Dan Marriott.The odds are against her.
But she won't be counted out of the June 16 state GOP convention, though Marriott is trying to get 70 percent of the delegate vote and eliminate her. She's enthusiastic and working hard.
For Atwood, it's nothing new. Throughout her life she's competed against males - first against her four older brothers, then against fellow geologists as she picked a traditionally male-dominated profession. When cracks appear in a chauvinistic wall, she jumps in. She was the first woman admitted to membership in the previously all-male Alta Club, for example.
But Marriott, who held the 2nd District seat from 1976-1984, may prove her political Waterloo. The only other recent example of a Republican female in the higher candidate ranks is Alice Shearer. Shearer, a former Salt Lake City Council member and also a non-Mormon, ran against former Lt. Gov. David Monson for the 1984 2nd District GOP nomination. Monson, a faithful member of the LDS Church, squashed Shearer in the GOP primary, 67-33 percent.
"As I remember that campaign," says Atwood. "Alice didn't confront publicly the fact she was a woman or a non-Mormon. While I speak of these issues - I have to because of the rumor campaign being waged against me - I stress my strengths - fiscal management and the environment."
Atwood says Marriott supporters have had the rumor mill operating overtime - "buzzing," as she puts it - especially among the 900-odd state delegates she and Marriott are courting for the convention.
"Buzz, buzz, buzz - Genevieve is a woman, buzz, buzz, buzz, she's not LDS, buzz, buzz, buzz, she's for abortion. They're right on the first two, absolutely wrong on abortion. But they use the three together. I don't think it's helping (Marriott); I think it hurts him," Atwood says.
By the way, she says her stand on abortion has been constant since she served as the Avenues representative to the Utah House in the 1970s: She opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or when the mother's life is in danger.
While one might expect the Democratic Party to be more hospitable to female candidates, Atwood says no. "The Democratic Party has a lot of rhetoric, not a lot of women candidates. The Republican Party is the place for women because we're the party of jobs. And that's what is really important to women - having a good living for themselves, their family.
"But, really, neither party has done very well for women. Both, up to now, have been pretty hostile to women candidates. That's why I'd hate to have the Republicans hear the message that could be sent by their delegates (in the convention): Women need not apply. To be 70-percented would really send a terrible, terrible message, an elitist message that says Republicans in the district will be denied the chance to vote for me in a primary election."
The Atwood family has lived in Utah for generations. Atwood was raised on the Avenues, attended Rowland Hall school and then went to Bryn Mawr College, a exclusive private school in Pennsylvania. She was student body president her final year and accepted to law school. But she decided to work a year in Europe. The next year she wasn't readmitted to law school and chose to get a graduate degree from Wesleyan College.
There, she fell in love with geology. Upon graduation, she went to work with the National Academy of Science, then came employment back in Utah with Ford, Bacon and Davis engineers - where she specialized in coal geology - and a John F. Kennedy fellowship at Harvard University.
Her father, who is 90 years old this year, said she should be a Republican when she talked about going into politics in the early 1970s. She ran for the Utah House in 1974 from her Avenues district and won. She won re-election in 1976 and 1978.
In 1980, she decided to challenge Democratic state Sen. Frances Farley. Most thought the pair would meet in the finals, but Atwood was beaten by ultraconservative Ed Rogers in a GOP primary. Charges of negative campaigning followed Rogers into the final against Farley, who easily defeated him.
"I didn't believe voters would believe what Rogers was saying about me. It was mean-spirited," says Atwood. "I learned a tough lesson. I want ethics in campaigning, but I won't turn the other cheek again. I'll fight back."
In 1981 she was appointed the first woman state geologist in the state's history and director of the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey. She resigned in 1989 to run for Congress.
Atwood, once divorced, is now married to fellow geologist Don Mabey, with whom she worked at the geological survey. They've both left the survey and now operate Atwood & Mabey, consulting engineers. She has no children.
Here are Atwood's statements on several issues:
-Environment: "Dan Marriott and Wayne Owens (the Democratic incumbent) are on the extremes - Dan wants to open everything up, Wayne wants to lock everything up. I believe in Teddy Roosevelt's balanced approach - conserve the environment, don't exploit and ruin it, don't lock it up.
-Federal spending: "We have to balance the federal budget. I support a balanced-budget amendment. I've worked in private industry and in government as an employee and legislator. I understand both sides and the issues."
-Health care: "We should have minimum affordable health care available to all Utahns."
-Foreign affairs: "We should promote the survival and advancement of democratic governments worldwide."