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2 vie in GOP Senate primary

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Political unknown Parley Hellewell offered a simple way to remember his name six years ago when he sought public office for the first time: "Remember," he said, "it starts off like hell, but it ends well."

That 1992 bid for Congress didn't end well for the Orem Republican nor did a subsequent attempt four years later. But he's back this year, seeking to replace retiring GOP Sen. LeRay McAllister in Utah Senate District 15."My opponent has tried to call me Merrill Cook because I run for every office that comes along," Hellewell said.

His opponent in the June 23 primary election is Greg Soter, the owner of a Provo advertising agency who's making his first foray into politics as a candidate. He's worked on numerous campaigns through his business. Rep. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, a friend and distant cousin, asked Soter to consider running last November.

"I burst out laughing," he said, telling Dayton, "I'd rather beat my shin with a two-by-four than do that."

Soter, however, thought it over, and after finding himself uncomfortable with the declared candidates, decided to run. Hellewell is a nice guy and would make a good neighbor, but he's not the person to represent the Provo-Orem district in the Legislature, he said. And, for the record, Soter says he never called Hellewell a Merrill Cook.

Both candidates are well acquainted with the retiring McAllister, and asked him to support their candidacies. But the veteran lawmaker isn't publicly taking sides. McAllister did, however, nominate Hellewell for Congress at the state GOP conventions in 1992 and 1996. Soter said McAllister encouraged him to run.

Hellewell, 48, is about as conservative as they come, but he doesn't think he should be lumped in with GOP extremists, even though the far-right Utah Republican Assembly endorses him.

"I'm definitely not that far right. I feel very fortunate the press has not put me there," he said.

In 1996, Hellewell's congressional campaign was heavy on constitutional issues and states rights. He also lamented the loss of school prayer, the Ten Commandments in schools and Nativity scenes on public property.

Although his sights were previously set on Congress, Hellewell says he thinks he can do a lot more good on the state level, especially when it comes to standing up to the federal government.

Soter, too, considers himself a conservative Republican. He's still trying to sort the meanings of words like "moderate" and "far right." Soter, 51, figures he falls somewhere in between. He holds to GOP ideals of lower taxes, cutting waste, less government. But he sees himself as less extreme than Hellewell.

"I favor lowering taxes whenever we can, but I'm not crazy on that point either," he said.

The Legislature needs small-business men because it already has plenty of attorneys and farmers, Soter said.

Soter has run Soter Associates, an advertising/marketing firm, from a historic house in downtown Provo for 25 years. The company develops print, broadcast and direct mail ads and public relations campaigns for both Utah and out-of-state clients. Soter already has put some of his expertise to work in the form of campaign billboards and newspaper ads.

A state senator needs specialized skills and training, Soter said. The Senate will benefit from his creativity and communication and persuasion skills, he said. Hellewell, Soter said, lacks those abilities.

Hellewell said Soter is trying to paint him as quiet and reserved, someone who can't build coalitions. "That's all a bunch of baloney," he said. Hellewell said he has the business background and experience to get things done.

Like Soter, Hellewell runs his own firm, PPM, an Orem plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company, from a house - his spacious two-story house. Hellewell's office is above the garage, but the growing firm will soon move to a new warehouse in Provo.

Senate District 15 covers northwest Provo, generally west of 500 West and north of Center Street, plus an area east to the Provo River between Moon River Drive and about 2500 North; south and central Orem; and Vineyard. The district's northern boundary in Orem is 1600 North west of I- 15, 800 North between I-15 and State Street, 400 North between State Street and 1000 East, and Center Street east of 1000 East.

The Utah County Republican Party will sponsor a debate between Hellewell and Soter on Wednesday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at Lakeridge Junior High, 951 S. 400 West, Orem.