Neither Tim Bridgewater nor Mike Lee can say they walked into the nuclear testing controversy unwittingly. Both candidates in the Republican Senate primary lost their fathers to cancer, and it is believed radiation from the Nevada Test Site was a contributing factor. They had to know this is no ordinary issue in a state that otherwise likes to support a strong military.
Now Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson is trying to score political points with the issue, even though he is running in a completely different race. And both Bridgewater and Lee seem to be backing slightly away from their positions, which were memorialized by their signatures on a "Peace Through Strength" initiative. Both of them have said essentially the same thing, that there is no need right now to resume testing and that it ought to be a last resort.
Here is a link to the initiative, as outlined in a Washington Times op-ed. Item No. 2 contains the testing language.
Also interesting is item No. 5, which calls for the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to remain open, as well as other detention centers on foreign soil.
Many Utahns feel strongly about this issue and believe the government owes more restitution to Americans citizens who were, essentially, attacked by their own government. But this isn't going to be a big election issue.
The U.S. Senate has yet to ratify the international test ban treaty because too many senators are afraid of appearing soft on defense. But the United States hasn't tested a nuclear weapon since 1992, and it isn't about to unless some huge threat comes along that makes nuclear war a real option.
My guess is Bridgewater and Lee felt they had more to lose by not signing the initiative than by having to explain their identical positions on testing. This year's election is about the economy and fiscal policies, not defense.