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Utah House Majority Whip Byron Harward, R-Provo, is being encouraged to run for the 3rd congressional seat now held by Democratic Rep. Bill Orton.

Harward confirmed Tuesday that a group of district residents has approached him and asked him to run. "I'll consider it. I'm not actively pursuing this myself. But I share concerns about winning this seat back from Orton."Orton, a freshman congressman, won an upset victory in 1990 in the strongly Republican district, which includes all of Utah County, southwestern Salt Lake County and counties to the east and south. Demographically, it is one of the most Republican districts in the United States. Orton won after Republicans self-destructed in a bitter primary fight.

Steve Densley, Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce president, is now the leading GOP contender. Also in the race are Republicans Parley Hellewell and Dan Raisor.

Harward said the group encouraging him to run is checking on fund raising and general support. "I hope to make a decision before the end of March," said Harward, who co-owns a legal publishing firm. The filing deadline is April 15.