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Money taints politics, author says

Former candidate Richard Eyre, with wife Linda, says, "The political process we have tends to weed out the best people before they even run."
Former candidate Richard Eyre, with wife Linda, says, "The political process we have tends to weed out the best people before they even run."

PROVO — Good candidates never make it on the ballot because of a complex system nobody wants to deal with.

That's according to best-selling author Richard Eyre, who spoke Friday to the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce.

"The political process we have tends to weed out the best people before they even run," said Eyre, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1992. "You got to be nuts to run for office in this country."

Eyre said when he and Steve Densley, now the leader of Utah County's large chamber of commerce, ran against Mike Leavitt and Olene Walker for the state's top political offices, they didn't have near enough money to successfully launch a campaign.

Eyre estimates Leavitt outspent him six-to-one in the primary election.

Campaigns are too focused on 30-second TV spots and name recognition rather than the real issues, Eyre said.

"It's one thing to say, 'We've got too much money in politics,' " Eyre said. "It's another thing to experience it. If you don't have any money in your family, then how can you do it?"

Eyre predict's next year's governor race will shatter spending records.

"I abhor that — it's just not the way it ought to happen," Eyre said. "I'm afraid it will be all about television ads and name recognition and slogans and sound bites."

A successful leader must have three qualities: impeccable character, a clear political ideology and real intelligence.

It's been too long since America has had a leader with all three of those qualities, Eyre said.

"There are opportunities to do things in politics that are great than they've ever been before," Eyre said. "But I think the system that we have let evolve in our country in the way we elect people has become so cumbersome and so horrible that we don't have the best leadership we can get at hardly any level."


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com