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Utah Democrats have a chance to break the 17-year Republican stranglehold on the state's two U.S. Senate seats, if they pick the right candidate next year, says pollster Dan Jones.

Republican Orrin Hatch will go after a fourth term in the Senate "and the hardest one to get elected to is your fourth term," said Jones. He spoke to elementary and secondary social studies teachers attending the University of Utah's annual Taft Seminar on Tuesday."Can anyone touch Hatch? Yes, I think (Democratic Congressman) Bill Orton would give him all he wants. Orton is very viable. But I don't know that Orton will run," said Jones, whose Dan Jones & Associates polling firm already is conducting private surveys on next year's election.

Orton won the 3rd District seat in 1990 and gained re-election to a second term last year with 59 percent of the vote, the best showing by a Utah Democrat in a major 1992 election race.

Jones said a woman would be a good candidate to oppose Hatch. Hatch's attacks on Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings has prompted the National Organization for Women to take sides in the Senate race.

"He has enraged women and many of his constituents," said NOW spokeswoman Rosemary Dempsey. "He underestimates what women, even the most conservative women, have experienced in their lives and in the workplace. He will feel the results of what he's done."

Todd Taylor, Utah Democratic Party executive director, said several women's groups "are willing to put up outrageous sums of money to see Hatch defeated. And, they would be even more enthusiastic if his opponent were a woman."

Utah Attorney General Jan Graham had been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate, but Taylor said Graham has taken her name out of the running.

Other potential Democratic candidates include Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi and state Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell, D-Salt Lake.

Jake Garn held Utah's other Senate seat for three terms, deciding against running for re-election last year. Bob Bennett kept the seat in GOP hands by topping Democratic Rep. Wayne Owens by 15 percentage points in November's general election.

Jones also said he believes there will be a significant Utah voter turnout in 1994, even though it is not a presidential election year. He said Independent Party leader Merrill Cook's term limitation initiative will get the voters out.

Seventeen months before the election, Jones said, 41 percent of Utahns say they are Republicans, 22 percent Democrats, and about 35 percent independent, with the rest supporting minor parties.