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CONVENTION MEANS $$ FOR UTAH CANDIDATES

SHARE CONVENTION MEANS $$ FOR UTAH CANDIDATES

Merrill Cook and Chris Cannon came here not only to nominate Bob Dole for president but to get some money, too.

Cook, after eight years in the independent wilderness, is the Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District; Cannon the GOP nominee in the 3rd District.Both are delegates to the convention. Cook was picked a delegate in a state GOP convention where he barely survived by 19 votes to make it into a primary, which he later won.

Cannon's future was a bit more clear. But he too was chosen a delegate in a convention that denied him the nomination outright. He had a primary also.

Cannon and Cook, both millionaires, have pumped several hundred thousand dollars of their own money into the campaigns. Now, after winning their party's nominations, they want some other people to start giving.

Both Cook and Cannon say they didn't come to San Diego expecting to get a lot of checks. "You don't start (fund raising) here, you build from here," said Cannon, who faces a relatively well-financed Democratic incumbent, Bill Orton, in November.

Cook said his goal is to make contacts that will later - in September and October - turn in to between $40,000 and $50,000. Cook faces Democrat Ross Anderson. Cook was 33 percentage points ahead of Anderson in a recent Deseret News/KSL poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates and says such a lead is actually harming his fund-raising efforts. "Some have said I don't need the money; so far ahead. Our own polling showed me 25 points up, so we show (potential givers) our poll," not the Jones' survey, said Cook.

"We have no goal for fund raising (specifically for) the convention," said Cannon. Overall, he hopes to raise around $150,000 from political action committees.

And while personal, individual contributions are accepted and welcomed, it is the PAC money that is really picked up at the national conventions - because here is where the PAC men and women are.

The convention itself, a hugely expensive affair that dominates the skyline and economy of even a large city like San Diego - the sixth-largest city in the nation - is partially paid for by corporate sponsors. There's a thick list of all the parties, events and functions which ran from last Saturday through the convention's close Thursday.

Cannon pulls from his pocket a list of possible appointments and events that runs a whole page. He can't cover them all himself; his wife goes to some in his place.

Cook also has a list drawn up by his campaign consultants of events to make. "I'll be going to a National Republican Congressional Committee event tonight" after the convention adjourns, Cook said Tuesday evening.

(One of the advantages of having a convention on the West Coast is that it ends at 8 p.m. Pacific time to catch TV prime time on the East Coast. And that leaves a bevy of after-convention shindigs each night.) Cannon missed the Utah delegation's tour of the aircraft carrier USS Constellation on Tuesday afternoon because he and brother Joe Cannon were invited at the last minute to a luncheon meeting hosted by former presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

At that meeting Chris Cannon was befriended by well-known Republican insider Boyden Gray, who offered to host a fund-raising event for Cannon in Washington, D.C., later this summer. Gray was President George Bush's White House counsel. Lobbyist donation reports for 1995 showed that Gray led all Washington lobbyists in contributing campaign money to congressmen, donating a healthy $143,910. You don't make these kind of contacts sitting in Salt Lake City during your party's national con-ven-tion.

A must engagement for most congressional candidates is Wednesday night's $1,000-per-person National Republican Party fund-raiser on the beach. That will cost Cannon and Cook, but making the scene, and being seen by about every national lobbyist and PAC leader in town, may well bring back into their coffers more than the $1,000 investments.

Absent from San Diego is Utah's other congressman facing re-election this year, Rep. Jim Hansen. The fact that he's not here shows the 16-year-incumbent's opinion of his Democratic challenger and the proven strength of Hansen's own fund raising. Hansen's challenger, Democrat Greg Sanders, says he won't take PAC money in his race against Hansen. Hansen says he'll raise money following Federal Election Commission law as he always has.

In fact, Cannon says while raising campaign money is always hard, he doesn't see the need for major campaign finance reform. "It's a First Amendment right to express yourself, and that is done in part" through giving to political campaigns. He doesn't, however, like the rule that an individual can only give in total $25,000 to federal political candidates. Limits on giving to a single candidate, yes, but not an aggregate, says Cannon.