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WILL LACK OF ELECTORAL VOTES DOOM HILL?

The numbers tell a grim story: Texas 32 to 5 over Utah. And California 54 to 5 over Utah.

No, they are not the latest Saturday afternoon college football scores. They are the number of electoral votes each state has to offer in the 1996 presidential election.And those electoral votes - and Utah's lack of them - could eventually spell doom for Utah's Hill Air Force Base when it comes time for President Clinton to decide which military bases to close in 1995.

At a monthly news conference at KUED Television, an increasingly pessimistic Gov. Mike Leavitt says he is seeing a "healthy dose of politics" surrounding the decision on which military bases to close. And all of Leavitt's lobbying efforts to save Hill are tempered by the "raw political power" of states like Texas and California.

"We are somewhat at a disadvantage with only five electoral votes," Leavitt said. "If it comes down to pure politics, we are disadvantaged. If it comes down to military value, we are advantaged."

Hill Air Force Base is competing against four other air logistics centers in Georgia, Texas, California and Oklahoma. The Base Realignment and Closure Com-mis-sion has said it wants to close one base and realign another.

McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento and Hill Air Force Base are the two most often mention for possible closure.

Leavitt is hoping against hope that the Base Closure Commission weighs the military value and efficiency of each institution, not the political weight of the congressional delegation. If it does that, Hill Air Force Base will fare just fine.

But Leavitt is also enough of a political realist to know that "what's good for the country" does not always factor into political decisions.

When asked if Clinton might punish Utah for his poor performance in the 1992 presidential race (Clinton finished third to George Bush and Ross Perot), Leavitt disagreed. "If anything, (Clinton) is looking to the 1996 election and California's electoral votes."

Leavitt said he has not yet seen that much Republican-Democrat partisanship politics over the base closures, but he has seen a disturbing amount of interservice politicking. "We have Navy and Air Force colonels and generals out guarding their assets," he said.

If Hill Air Force Base is, in fact, closed or significantly downsized, Leavitt said Utah's robust economy would suffer, but it would recover. "But it would not be a happy time."

The state has already been experiencing downsizing in the defense industry to the tune of 3,000 to 4,000 lost jobs a year. More Utahns are now employed in the software industry than the defense industry, Leavitt said.

The state has begun looking at contingency plans in the event Hill Air Force Base is closed. Some of the assets have application in the private sector, but others, like missiles, do not.

"We need to be planning with that in mind," he said.

Private takeover would also be complicated by environmental damage on-base. As many as 2,400 acres are tainted with solvents and heavy metals from five decades of work.

Federal law prohibits the government from leasing or selling damaged land to private industry - a move base officials hope to make possible by spending at least $350 million for cleanup.

Leavitt's Office of Planning and Budget said this week the state would lose $1.9 billion a year in economic output if the base's Air Logistics Center closes. And more than 17,000 workers would lose their jobs statewide with $560 million in accompanying salaries.