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WILL STATE CONVENTION DECIDE 2ND DISTRICT GOP RACE?

"If I'd wanted to stay in Congress, I wouldn't have gotten out. Congress? I don't think that's where my interests are" - Dan Marriott, May 1987.

What a difference a few years make. Like many politicians who just couldn't put their public careers behind them, former 2nd District Rep. Dan Marriott is back in the thick of the race.

And, previous statements aside, he wants to sit on the benches of the U.S. House of Representatives again. But along the way, Marriott must endure the indignity of having old quotes thrown back in his face, not only by Democratic incumbent Rep. Wayne Owens but by his Republican opponent Genevieve Atwood as well.Like:

"I don't have the patience to wait around to become ranking Republican on a committee - that takes five more terms. Or to be speaker. It's not as much fun as it once was, trying to get things for your own district and state when the committee chairmen are from the other party and other states. I think I'll miss it. I won't miss the routine, but I will miss the limelight" - Marriott, October, 1984.

Marriott says he has no regrets about leaving Washington, D.C., that his young, growing family needed him and the last six years have been wonderful. "The ballgames, dance reviews, daddy-daughter dates, the advice I was here to offer and the time we've shared together as a family have been truly rewarding," he says in his first campaign brochure.

In truth, he's never been far away from politics. Even while building his private businesses, he stayed on the fringe of activity. He considered running for party chairman last year but backed away. In 1988, he considered challenging Gov. Norm Bangerter for the GOP nomination (Bangerter beat him in 1984 for the nomination) but again didn't do it. And he was an early backer of industrialist Jon Huntsman when Huntsman briefly did challenge Bangerter in 1988.

In part, it's his quirky and independent approach to politics - both in the House and after - that has left him often on the outside of the Republican hierarchy. In 1976, Marriott was considered the sacrificial lamb when he ran against Democratic Rep. Allan Howe. When Howe was politically destroyed in a sex-for-hire scandal, Marriott won the seat. He won re-election in 1978, 1980 and 1982 before leaving Congress for an unsuccessful 1984 run for governor. Along the way, he sometimes bumped heads with Republican leaders.

"I was never the darling of the party," Marriott recalls. "But I could go to a party convention and get them stirred up. Frankly, the Charles Akerlows (former party chairman) and so-called in-crowd of the party - we never hit it off.

"That's because I've always been a free thinker and independent - within the broad confines of the party. I prefer not owing anyone anything, I don't want IOUs out there from or for me. And that independence rubbed some people the wrong way."

Some of those "insiders" haven't been very good leaders, Marriott believes. He hasn't cowtowed to them before, and he won't now.

A former incumbent of Marriott's stature might expect to get his party's nomination without a fight. After all, newcomer Richard Snelgrove had no Republican opposition two years ago in his challenge to Owens. But Atwood filed against Marriott knowing he was going to enter the race. And rumors sprung up that some GOP leaders encouraged her.

Marriott denies this. "They (GOP leaders) are neutral," he says.

Here are some thoughts on his race and what he wants to do in Congress:

-Did former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson's resignation from that post harm his 1988 governor's race? "No, that didn't play a factor. Merrill Cook's independent candidacy beat Wilson, not his leaving office and coming back. Returning to politics isn't a problem."

-What do you want to do in Congress? "I want to be the spokesman for the issues of the 1990s - American competitiveness in world markets, education, health care and Social Security. What's happened to the (Utah) delegation? (Sen. Jake) Garn is up to his neck in the savings-and-loan problem. (Sen. Orrin) Hatch is off on women's issues. Wayne (Owens) is in the wilderness or talking about Arabs and Israel."

Marriott says he can pick up where he left off in 1984 - his absence not making any difference in his work. "Some say wouldn't it be nice if I were a 14-year incumbent. I say no. My family was more important." If he'd stayed, Marriott says, he'd be several seats closer in seniority to a committee chairmanship but still in the minority party.

"When I go back this time, I'll immediately be an effective spokesman for the minority view - a conservative, constructive view. I will use my position as a bully pulpit. Hammer those (Democrats) day and night."

Marriott and his wife, Marilynn, have been married for 25 years. They have four children. Here are his views on several subjects:

-Economic leadership: "We need to take positive steps to encourage a healthy and profitable small-business community." He proposes nine steps to improve competitiveness, including no new taxes, reduce federal spending, increase individual savings and cutting the capital gains tax.

-Education: A good share of the so-called "peace dividend" - gained as the federal government cuts back on defense spending - should go to states as educational grants for smaller class sizes, increase teacher pay and to rid schools of alcohol and drugs.

-Families: The traditional two-parent family should be encouraged. But to help the non-traditional families, which make up half the population, there should be strong, affordable child-care programs and tax breaks for businesses who help working parents.

-Health care: The solution lies in innovative, private-sector initiatives. Congress must reject federal mandates on small business or a new bureaucracy to administer socialized medicine.