The full text of candidates' responses to Deseret News questionnaires on election issues can be found online.

Two years ago, state GOP leaders targeted Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent in House District 41, the Cottonwood Heights area.

They said they wanted to "cut off the head of the snake" before Arent, an attractive candidate with higher political aspirations, could move up.

"The snake is still there," joked Rob Bishop, chairman of the Utah Republican Party.

The GOP snake-killer this year is physician Mark Steffensen. His attempt to defeat Arent, who seeks her third term, shapes up as one of the more interesting legislative races in southeast Salt Lake County.

"She is a flat-out liberal whose votes are not characteristic of the district," Bishop said. "Mark is walking the district, putting in the effort to win."

Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, is banking on Arent.

"This will be a self-financed campaign against Patrice," Taylor predicted last spring. "But she'll overcome it" like she has before, he said.

And sure enough, of the $19,000 Steffensen has raised, $15,000 is his own money.

Arent, an attorney and prodigious fund-raiser, still had $37,000 in her campaign account as of Sept. 15, however. A number of banks and lawyers support her.

District 41 races were some of the most expensive in the House in the 1990s.

Of the eight House seats in southeast Salt Lake County, three are currently held by Democrats, and all three are running for re-election. Four of the five Republican incumbents are seeking a return to the Capitol.

Only one of the three area Senate districts is up for re-election next month, and it is a key battle for the Democrats. Local attorney Jim McConkie hopes to retain the District 8 seat for his party after Sen. Scott Howell, D-Granite, the Senate Minority Leader, left to take on Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for a spot in Washington, D.C.

Here is a rundown of the candidates in each race:

Senate District 8 (parts of Midvale and Murray, east to the canyons): McConkie, who has flirted with running for various offices before, finds himself in a must-win situation for the Democrats. If he loses, his party has little hope of claiming a majority in the Senate, as it hopes to do Nov. 7.

Republicans already have complained about McConkie's legal residency, an issue that died away this summer with McConkie and Taylor saying Republicans are blowing smoke. McConkie's residency has been upheld by state officials.

Republicans are pulling out the stops to help their candidate, Carlene Walker.

"This is our best chance to pick up a (Senate) seat. It's a toss-up," Bishop said.

House District 40 (Murray, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Democratic newcomer Pat Jones goes against GOP incumbent Richard Walsh, who seeks his third term. This could be a bellwether — two well-financed, articulate candidates in a swing district.

"We lost that race by just 100 votes in 1998," Taylor said.

"And I bet we have great polling data there," he joked.

Jones is the wife of well-known pollster Dan Jones, who polls for the Deseret News.

House District 41 (Holladay, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Arent, assistant minority whip in the House, faces Steffensen and Libertarian J. Boyd Seal.

House District 44 (Murray, Midvale): Rep. Chad Bennion, R-Murray, seeks re-election for the first time. Jared Allen is his Democratic opponent.

House District 45 (Midvale, Sandy, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Republicans have held this district for years. Former Utah speaker Mel Brown resigned his seat earlier this year, but wasn't running for re-election anyway.

Morgan Philpot, who briefly challenged GOP U.S. Rep. Merrill Cook, was appointed to replace Brown last month. Running against him is Democrat Michael Olsen, who lost to Brown in 1998.

"We're fighting for this one," Taylor said. "It's a toss-up."

"This is a tough area. Morgan is a determined kid. We should be OK," Bishop said.

House District 46 (Sandy, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, seeks her second term against Republican Robert Warnick.

House District 48 (Sandy, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Democratic Rep. Trisha Beck, who seeks her second full term, has been targeted by the GOP. The district was held for years by the late Democratic Rep. Kurt Oscarson. Beck won it in her own right in 1998 after Oscarson's death.

"Trish Beck is no Kurt Oscarson," Bishop said. "We're going after this one and we'll win" with Republican Dan Simons, the former economic development director for the city of Sandy.

Taylor admits the district votes 52 percent Republican. But Beck is a hard worker and a long-time resident, he said.

House District 49 (Sandy, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Rep. Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, the assistant majority whip in the House, runs for his fourth term against Democrat Beverly May. May's name was inadvertently left out of the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet published by the state Election Office.

House District 51 (Sandy, Draper, unincorporated Salt Lake County): Rep. John Swallow, R-Sandy, seeks his third term against Democrat Kirk Denison.


E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com; zman@desnews.com