Some hope principles will win over politics. Others may just be praying for a fluke vote by delegates. Whatever their chances, Saturday's state Republican Convention sees a large field of official candidates for Utah's three U.S. House seats.
Yes, the likelihood is that the convention will easily give Rep. Jim Hansen his party's nomination in the 1st District. Also, Enid Greene Waldholtz and Dixie Thompson count on eliminating all their opponents in the 2nd and 3rd Districts, respectively.It may very well be that Republicans have no primaries in the big races come the June 28 primary election - as Sen. Orrin Hatch is expected to win his nomination as well Saturday. Good for the front-runners, at least - less money spent, less worries as they aim for the Nov. 8 general election.
But not good for party politics, opponents say.
Hansen is being challenged by Dub Lawrence, a former Democratic Davis County sheriff, Republican Davis County com-mis-sioner and Independent Party congressional candidate. Lawrence comes back to the Republican Party this year to challenge the 14-year incumbent Hansen, but Lawrence's chances are slim.
Waldholtz (who ran as Enid Greene in 1992 but has since married) is the clear front-runner in the 2nd District, with Teri Hendricks, Jim Foley and Martin Banta also in the GOP hunt. Waldholtz lost to Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, in 1992, and now she's trying again.
In the 3rd District, Thompson, an Emery County commissioner, believes she has a shot at winning 70 percent of the delegate vote and eliminating Brent White, Tom Draschil and Dale Despain. Of the three GOP contests, Thompson's position is most precarious. Despain and Draschil both think they can keep Thompson below 70 percent with one of them facing her in a primary.
Foley steadfastly says Waldholtz won't get 70 percent and so will face him in a primary, but Waldholtz's campaign leaders say she is cautiously optimistic that Saturday will see the end of Foley's campaign.
Waldholtz, 35, is an attorney. She's the former corporate counsel to Novell and a deputy chief of staff to former GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter. Waldholtz has been looking at running again against Shepherd for some time, especially after Shepherd voted for President Clinton's budget/deficit plan last year, which included a gas-tax increase. In the 1992 campaign Shepherd said she wouldn't vote to raise taxes, and Waldholtz has seized upon that irony. "I know that it's hard to believe anyone running for office who pledges not to raise taxes," says Waldholtz. "Well, you can believe in me. I will not support raising our taxes. I'll work to lower them. If I don't, I won't run again."
Foley, 30, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He came to Utah in October 1992 as a Navy recruiting officer and left the Navy in December. He's since started a private computer software consulting firm. Foley says as military spending is decreased the money should be returned as tax decreases. He wants medical IRAs soindividuals can save for their health-care costs and opposes most gun control. "Laws against violent criminals should be enforced, instant background checks, as supported by the National Rifle Association, should be imposed on would-be gun buyers," he says. "Government is getting bigger and more expensive, not better. The rights of individuals are eroding."
Hendricks, 31, is a University of Utah political science major, a real estate agent and developer who seeks office for the second time. In 1992 she ran for the Utah House and was eliminated in the convention. Hendricks says she supports proportional, not progressive taxes; less government control and less regulation, especially on small business; opposes all national health-care plans, especially the Clinton and Cooper alternatives; and wants a 100 percent deduction for all interest-bearing accounts and health-care insurance costs.
Banta couldn't be reached for comment. In literature left with GOP officials, Banta says the federal government has grown out of control. He opposes NAFTA - "by constitutional standards, NAFTA did not pass." Clinton's health-care plan "is a takeover of industry." The main cause of health-care costs "is runaway malpractice suits." If physicians follow certain guidelines in treating patients, short of negligence there should be no malpractice. "Goals 2000 is the worst education program ever. The federal government seeks to dictate what your children will be taught and who will do the teaching," Banta writes. Banta says he supports a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto for the president.
An often-seen candidate, Lawrence will try to unseat Hansen, who is campaigning for his eighth term. Hansen doesn't claim victory now, though he soundly beat Lawrence in the 1990 GOP convention. "We've contacted several delegates, and they all sound very supportive but you never know," said Joe Hansen, campaign manager and one of the congressman's sons.
If Hansen wins the November election, he will have held a House seat longer than any Utah U.S. House member. He is currently tied for the longest service with former Rep. J. Will Robinson, D-Utah. At the same time, he is the lone Republican among Utah's three-member House delegation.
Lawrence says the district needs new representation. He admits a convention win would occur "against all the odds."
But Lawrence has beat the odds before. In 1974, as an unknown Bountiful policeman and a Democrat, he beat Republican incumbent Sheriff William Peters.
Then in 1988 he became a Republican and ran against Harold Tippitts, a Republican county commissioner who was endorsed by all the party heavyweights. He beat Tippitts in the primary and went on to win the final election. In 1992 Lawrence joined Merrill Cook's fledgling Independent Party and ran against Hansen, losing badly.
Lawrence says Hansen has become more ineffective in office in recent years, pointing to defense industry cutbacks that have closed Tooele Army Depot and threaten Hill Air Force Base and the Defense Depot in Ogden.
Republicans are still trying to recover from an embarrassing 1990 loss to Democrat Bill Orton, but over the years since haven't found a clearly strong candidate.
The party's likely top candidate this year, Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert, dropped out of the race March 30 after disappointing fund-raising efforts.
Among the four remaining candidates, only Thompson is politically well-known outside their own cities or counties. Thompson likes her chances at the state convention and against Orton. She has traversed the state picking up delegate support in rural counties and endorsement's from party leaders. "It's nice to know that people are starting to believe we are going to take this thing. The momentum is growing for us. We started early, we have run strong and the victory is in sight," she said.
Despain, from Provo, didn't launch his campaign until April 17. Starting late "put us behind," he says. "But we're catching up fast. I spent a lot of time building a fine organization. And I'm confident that when the state convention opens, we'll not only make a proper showing, we'll do very well." Despain said the district "can't afford to send another Democrat back to Congress no matter how conservative he may appear to be."
Draschil, another Provo resident, also got into the race relatively late, announcing his candidacy March 25. Draschil, who as economics and law degrees from Brigham Young University, says it's time "to stem the liberal tide that threatens to engulf us."
He added: "We need a congressman who will not compromise prin-ciple for the support of any individual or groups, who will not go along to get along, who will not play the political trading game that is the current rule in Washington."
Like Thompson, White hopes to pick up rural Utah delegates. A Sevier County banker, White is basing his candidacy on traditional values, which he said are being swept away.
"In this country, we have the right to choose how we live, where we live and what we do. We also have a responsibility that comes with that freedom. We need to make sure our choices are right and good," he said.