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BOTH ORTON, OWENS TO ATTEND RETREAT

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As yet another sign that both Reps. Wayne Owens and Bill Orton, D-Utah, are serious about running for the Senate, both plan to attend a weekend retreat for Democratic Senate candidates from around the nation.

Both confirmed Thursday they will attend the retreat at Piney Point, Md., sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee."It will go over fund-raising, strategy and how to plan a good campaign," Orton said. "Yes, that shows I'm looking seriously at running."

Owens said, "I'm not sure who's going to run. I think I am. If I don't, Orton will. I tend to think Orton would be a good candidate. But I think I would be a better one."

Orton seemed to agree that if Owens runs for the Senate, he likely will not. "If the party wants me, I will run. If not, then I will run for the House," Orton said.

To show it wants him, Orton added, the party would have all likely Democratic candidates - such as him, Owens, businessman Doug Anderson and Kyle Kopitke - get together, decide to back the candidate with the best chance of winning and then figure that is Orton.

He said unreleased portions of a poll by Owens show Orton has the best chance. He added he is having Washington pollster Peter Hart conduct a poll for him about everyone's chances, which he says should be done in about three weeks.

"I will release all portions of it," he said. "Hart is a national pollster with whom you cannot argue." Still, Orton acknowleges that while it may be wise for Democrats to choose one candidate without a primary, that isn't likely to happen.

For example, Anderson - who is in Washington this week - vowed to stay in the race no matter who else gets in. And Anderson has pledged to spend up to $1 million of his own money on the campaign.