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Both parties rally in last-minute efforts to galvanize Utah voters

Published: Sunday, Oct. 31 2010 6:39 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Democrat or Republican, the message was the same: The race is in its crucial, final stages and small efforts will make all the difference.

Candidates from both Republican and Democratic parties who are vying for seats in the U.S. Senate, the 2nd Congressional District and as Utah governor met in separate rallies in Salt Lake City and Draper Saturday.

Democrats Rep. Jim Matheson, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and businessman Sam Granato spoke to volunteers in Salt Lake City, and Matheson — who is running for a sixth term against Republican Morgan Philpot to represent the 2nd Congressional District — reminded them that victories can be found in even the narrowest of margins.

"Ten years ago when I won, the final margin was three votes per precinct," he said. "It matters what you do. There's going to be a lot of close races this year. These efforts are going to be critical to these candidates' success."

Philpot also could be found rallying the troops in Draper City Park, joined by fellow Republicans Mike Lee, who is running for U.S. Senate against Granato, and Gov. Gary Herbert, who is being challenged by Corroon in a special election for governor.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Philpot said. "Pound the pavement. Get out there and talk to your neighbors on the ground, door to door. That's what's going to bring home the victory."

Philpot said he feels "really good" about the race and credits that, in large part, to those volunteers who came to help with the "grassroots" effort Saturday.

Lee appealed to his tea party support.

"Can you feel what's about to happen?" he asked his supporters. "I can feel it and it makes me very, very happy because people all around this country are doing something they haven't done in a long time; They're taking out the 223-year-old document that created our republic and made it the greatest civilization on the planet, and they're reading it and understanding a lot of what's wrong with our economy right now."

But Sam Granato said his opponents were overly reliant on political rhetoric.

"We can either elect extreme, political rhetoric-charged candidates who want to cause a partisan gridlock or we can elect moderate, common-sense gentlemen who will move this state and country forward," he said. "We've got to get out and work hard. We've got to knock doors and we've got to believe."

Herbert embraced the word "extreme," jokingly telling the Republican volunteers that it was "good to be with all you extremists." He said he feels "cautiously optimistic" about this year's race, but said he believes it will be a Republican year both in Utah and across the nation.

"It's nice to get out with the party faithful and rally the troops and feed off their enthusiasm, go out and knock some doors make sure we get the vote out," Herbert said. "We're not to the finish line yet. We need to get to the finish line. We're going to work hard, run fast and hopefully be effective in getting the vote out."

Corroon said he, too, feels the race is going well. He said he had just returned from a 29-county tour of the state and feels he is poised to address the concerns he feels Utah citizen's have, namely about education and the economy.

"It's important to get issues out there and sometimes you have to take a hard tack in letting people know what's going on in our current government," he said. "We now have to get out the vote. That is the most critical thing we can do … that will make all the difference."

A Deseret News/KSL poll last week showed all incumbents in the statewide races had leads of 10 percentage points or more going into Tuesday's election.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

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