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GOP lists grow in 1st, 2nd districts

2 seek Hansen’s seat; 2 eyeing Matheson’s job

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Two Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring for the nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Hansen in the 1st Congressional District. Another is in the running for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District against first-term Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, and a fourth is thinking of joining that race.

Vickie McCall officially will announce her candidacy for the 1st District Monday in both Salt Lake City and Ogden. McCall, 53, is a three-term commissioner on the Utah Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission and has been president of the Utah Defense Alliance for 10 years, where she worked with Hansen.

Hansen, who has been in office for 22 years, announced Jan. 8 that he will retire at the end of the year.

"In less than two weeks since I formed an exploratory committee, I have been able to raise $50,000, and more commitments come in every day," McCall said.

She will be up against Kevin C. Probasco, who announced his candidacy Jan. 17.

Probasco is a former Air Force prosecuting attorney who was the chief prosecutor for Hill Air Force Base and the chief circuit trial counsel for a five-state region. He now works as a private attorney in employment law, commercial litigation and immigration law.

"I believe I have the full complement of national and international leadership experience needed to be an effective representative for Utah's First District," he said.

In the 2nd District, retired Army pilot Gary R. Stephens, 58, said he will seek the GOP nomination. Stephens retired as the Army advisor to the Utah National Guard in 1999, after which he and his wife served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Stephens said he understands America's war on terrorism and Utah's military importance.

"When I'm elected, and I will win, I'll be the only congressman who can say he actually dropped a 2,000-lb. bomb on the Utah (west desert bombing) range," he said.

The race is already populated by former GOP Rep. Merrill Cook, who says he'll seek his old seat again, and state Rep. John Swallow, R-Sandy, an attorney.

Salt Lake Councilman Steve Harmsen is also considering a run for the GOP nomination; he has formed an exploratory committee to "test the water" for a possible bid.

"I have been urged to seek this office by many Republican friends and supporters in Salt Lake County plus the support from rural country leaders," he said. "My agriculture business interest in the rural counties gives me an understanding of rural and urban issues."


Contributing: Bob Bernick Jr.

E-mail: lwhite@desnews.com