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GOP LOYALIST ELECTED COUNTY PARTY CHIEF

A sparse gathering of Salt Lake County Republicans elected party loyalist Steven Asay as county party chairman Friday night in an off-election year convention.

Asay, a local businessman, succeeds Richard Kuchinsky, who retired after four years in the volunteer office.Long-time GOP worker Geraldine Shaw was elected vice chairwoman. Patricia Worthington, former aide to U.S. Sen. Jake Garn, ran unopposed for county party secretary, and Don Paver ran unopposed as treasurer.

Asay said he started his working career as a cub reporter in the Provo Bureau of the Deseret News but has since moved into business.

County party officials said 1,034 county delegates could have attended the organizing convention, but only 181 showed up - a paltry 17.5 percent delegate turnout.

County party leaders tried something new this year. Instead of the usual nominating and candidate speeches, candidates for party offices sat behind a table and answered questions. In answer to a question about whether he supported county, state and national GOP platforms and ideals, Asay said he and his wife have been involved in the pro-life movement and anti-pornography crusades.

"We've walked the picket lines. We've done it (lived the Republican platform planks). We've proved ourselves," said Asay.

He said he'd concentrate his two-year term on fund-raising because mainly through adequate funds can good Republican candidates get elected to the Utah Legislature and county offices - the main purview of county party officials.

He'll need the work.

A financial sheet on the county party's money troubles was passed out at the convention, held in West High School's auditorium.

The sheet shows the party at the end of fiscal 1994 with a $10,611 deficit, although county officers said that deficit has since dwindled.

County GOP fund-raisers weren't very successful last year. The county's Lincoln Day Dinner, the main fund-raiser of the year, only made $379. This year's Lincoln Day Dinner wasn't any better. Through a strange mix-up, some county Republicans thought they could get Utah Jazz star Karl Malone to attend, and so advertised.

But Malone thought he was going to a Utah Shooting Sports Council dinner to get an award and refused to attend a GOP fund-raiser. Only 43 people attended the dinner, and the party made only $300.

In his address to the convention, Kuchinsky said he's been wooing NFL Player of the Year Steve Young, quarterback of the NFL champion San Francisco 49ers, to attend a county fund-raiser this summer. "But we just received word he's said no," Kuchinsky said.

Asay said he plans to hold a number of fund-raising events and lower the cost so regular families can attend. But he'll also make new overtures to those "Republicans back into the party" who can afford more expensive fund-raising dinners.