While the war with Democrat Bill Orton in the 3rd Congressional District waits, two candidates are waging a relatively quiet battle for the Republican nomination.
Republicans Dixie Thompson and Tom Draschil have taken few shots at each other the past few weeks. They aren't far apart on most issues. They've spent most of their time trying to paint two-term Congressman Orton as a liberal who helps carry out President Clinton's agenda.Only lately, as it comes down to crunch time, have the two GOP candidates griped about each other. Leading Thompson to remark that "if we repeat mistakes of the Republican campaign of 1990 (the Harmer-Snow fiasco), the party and the district will be the losers." GOP leaders moved the primary to June 28 this year to avoid long intraparty campaigns.
The lack of noise prompted Draschil to try to drum up some media exposure in early June.
"Where are you guys?" he asked in a news release. "This is the only congressional primary race going on right now."
The media have done stories about the race. But the electorate apparently has found better things do on spring evenings when candidates are hammering home points on the economy, taxes, health care and education.
"There hasn't been much to pay attention to," said Bud Scruggs, a political analyst and Brigham Young University professor.
Political observers and candidates alike don't expect polling places in the 18-county district to be brimming with voters June 28. A summer primary is new to Utah. Civic juices usually don't get flowing until September.
"I think the whole game may be in which campaign has the best turnout mechanism," Scruggs said. "This race could very easily be decided by a 12-phone boiler room someplace. Republicans, if reminded, will go out and vote."
Getting out and making her name known has been Thompson's strategy from day one. She was the first person to declare a candidacy, entering the race last November. Thompson, an Emery County commissioner, blanketed the district with 3,000 campaign signs in late February.
Draschil decided to run a day before the March 17 filing deadline. Nevertheless, the Provo real estate developer made up a lot of ground in a short time. He finished four percentage points behind Thompson - 48 percent to 44 percent - at the state GOP convention May 7, forcing the primary. His campaign signs started popping up at the end of May.
The Thompson campaign has questioned Draschil's credibility. A Draschil flier says "his leadership made him the choice for a presidential appointment under the Reagan administration where he set up a successful `workfare' program."
Thompson supporters say there was no such appointment.
While working as president of the El Paso Private Industry Council Inc., from November 1979 to November 1980, Draschil put together a program in which participants put in public-service hours at a hospital in exchange for nursing training.
Draschil clarified that a Department of Labor official asked the industry council board chairman to devise a job-training program. The chairman in turn approached Draschil for help. Draschil said the program became a model for similar programs during the Reagan administration, which began January 1981.
Campaign workers removed the word "appointment" from Draschil's resume recently after inquiries by the Deseret News.
Both candidates say uniting 3rd District Republicans is the key to unseating Orton, who has pulled many GOP members into his fold.
But Draschil said it appears Thompson is doing just the opposite.
"She is trying to gather rural votes by drawing divisive boundaries between rural and urban areas of the district," he said.
Thompson put out a flier early in her campaign outlining how she can defeat Orton with the rural Utah vote.
"Richard Harrington proved in 1992 that a Utah County businessman cannot go down to San Juan County and say: `Look at me. I'm a Republican' and hope to win votes there. He cannot go to Vernal and say: `Orton is a liberal. I'm not' and think he will get elected. It will take someone who can say, `I'm from Orangeville. I'm one of you,' " the flier said.
Past elections show Republicans need rural votes to beat Orton, Thompson said. "The election is not going to be won or lost in Utah County."
Draschil, 44, said he's trying to concentrate on the entire district, not stake claims in specific areas. "I hope people vote for me, not because of where I'm from, but because they share my principles and stand on the issues," he said.
"She is making the huge, unfounded assumption that she will take the entire rural vote," said Draschil field campaign manger Kurt Lefler.
Thompson, 50, isn't originally from Orangeville. She grew up in west Salt Lake County in what is now West Valley City. She married Kenneth R. Thompson in 1963. The Thompsons and their five children moved to Emery County 14 years ago.
With her family grown, Thompson returned to school, earning business administration degrees at the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University. She won a seat on the Emery County Commission in 1990.
"We need fresh ideas from those who have experience in the real world, and who will make their stay a short one," Thompson said. She has pledged to serve no more than three terms if elected to Congress.
As a county commissioner, Thompson has served on several committees, including the State Comprehensive Planning Commission, National Forest Service Task Force and Southeastern Utah Board of Health.
Draschil, who has an economics degree from Brigham Young University, is making his first run at elected office. But he is not a newcomer to politics. He has worked as a government relations manager for the El Paso and San Antonio chambers of commerce, where he recruited and worked with political candidates.
While in law school at BYU in 1975, Draschil, a native of Texas, did a summer internship with liberal Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, now the secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration.
"It was a great work experience; wrong boss," Draschil said.
People Draschil has encountered on the campaign trail have wondered about the curious alliance. "How can you be a conservative and work for a liberal Democrat? The answer is, `Hey, we all make mistakes.' "
But make no mistake, Draschil lives decidedly on the right of the political spectrum, probably more so than Thompson.
Draschil moved back to Provo in 1989. He and his wife, Cheryl, have 12 children. His business interests have included manufactured housing, oil wells and a paraplane dealership.
Even though Draschil and Thompson took different roads to the verge of the Republican nomination, they are basically on the same political path.
"There are some areas of difference," Draschil said. "I think the difference is our understanding of where the federal government should and shouldn't be involved in our lives."
U.S. Congress - 3rd District
Why should voters elect you as the Republican nominee in the 3rd Congressional District instead of your opponent?
As a county commissioner, I bring political experience and a voting record strong on Utah issues. I have solid backing of the district needed to defeat Bill Orton. Mr. Draschil, a newcomer to Utah, has never held political office and is greatly uninformed about the issues and needs of our district.
Experience, leadership and principles. I have worked, lobbied and testified in Washington. Degrees in economics and law preceded my developing President Reagan's first "workfare" program. I have been in private business for the past 12 years. Most importantly, I understand the Congress and principles of the U.S. Constitution. I stand firmly for limited government, states' rights and individual responsibility.
How would you propose to deal with health care in the United States?
The federal government and its bureaucrats should not be involved in health care. The health-care reform packages being bandied about on Capitol Hill are almost without exception recipes for disaster. I am in favor of tax credits for individuals and small businesses and against mandatory enforced enrollment and the elimination of choice.
The solution is less government, not more. I propose the following: Oppose federal and state bureaucracies and a national health board; reform the tax structure so small businesses have the same advantage as large corporations; deregulate health-related industries and follow free enterprise and competition to create abundance and quality to hold down costs.
What is your opinion of recent gun-control measures taken by Congress?
The sad thing about the outcome of the recent vote on gun control is that one vote made the difference between upholding our Second Amendment rights and infringing on those same rights. I am for our constitutional right to bear arms and oppose any form of gun control. Increase in recent guns sales exhibit how out of touch Congress is with the American people.
Disarming law-abiding Americans is foreign to the Constitution framers' original intent. Besides personal protection, the Second Amendment also allows protection from the tyranny of one's own government. Statistics clearly prove that gun-control laws result in increased crime. I oppose any infringements on the Second Amendment.
What kind of tax changes do you support?
Government is not the source of economic strength. Taxes are too high. Government spending does not create jobs. The dollars taken out of the private economy to "create" government jobs are not superfluous dollars. "Silent taxes" (costs of government mandates on business and local government) also kill jobs. Taxes are not the cure for the budget deficit.
Tax cuts stimulate investment, jobs and savings coupled with spending freezes and cuts in areas of government previously reserved to states (e.g. environment, welfare, public lands). Specifically, reduce withholding taxes, eliminate the capital-gains tax, eliminate double taxation of corporate ownership and move toward a flat tax rate system.
What is your position on the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to impose tighter pollution-control measures in Utah and Salt Lake counties?
I oppose the EPA's costly environmental meddling in what is an obvious local issue. It has been clearly demonstrated that the EPA is more interested in federal control over the state than with environmental protection. Case in point: Utah's clean-air plan that exceeded EPA mandatory requirements was rejected simply because the state did not do it the EPA way.
The federal government has no constitutional basis for mandating a "one size fits all" approach for Utah. Federal land-use restrictions have hurt Utah farmers, and EPA carbon-monoxide restrictions actually increased pollution levels. Protecting the environment is a local concern and must be based on science, not federal Chicken Little extremism.
Would you work to prevent military reductions in Utah? If so, how.
Utah's military facilities are both cost-effective and strategically located for the defense of our country. My proven ability to build coalitions and unite people with diverse viewpoints will assist me in gathering the needed support to protect the economic interests of our state by preventing base closures.
President Clinton's military cuts are destroying our defense capabilities. Today, Desert Storm would not be possible. I will support Congressman Jim Hansen's efforts to maintain Hill AFB, Dugway and Defense Depot Ogden, all of which perform necessary and unique defense functions. I oppose Clinton's proposed defense cuts, which would further weaken our national defense.