Gov. Norm Bangerter said Tuesday that no self-respecting conservative Republican would vote for Ted Wilson and that Wilson's gubernatorial campaign jingle, "He did it before, he'll do it again," should scare voters who look at the former mayor's record.
"Look at Ted Wilson's record and what do you see? A long and consistent record of increasing government spending," Bangerter told Spanish Fork Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanas and Rotary Club members at a Tuesday luncheon."It's hard for me to see how a conservative Republican could vote for Ted and still respect himself in the morning," Bangerter said. "If you want lower taxes, you don't want Ted Wilson," he added.
Bangerter said Wilson proposed a tax increase every year he was mayor of Salt Lake City. Even with adjustments for inflation and changes in population, city spending went up 2 percent each year Wilson was in office, Bangerter said.
"And it could have been a lot worse. It wasn't a strong mayor who kept taxes as low as they were, it was a strong city council.
"If he were elected governor, I believe we would have higher taxes."
Bangerter defended his own record.
"Everyone knows we increased taxes on a state level last year. What most people don't know is that even with the tax increase, we reduced spending (in dollars adjusted for inflation)."
Bangerter said Wilson's promise never to raise taxes as governor was "an amazing conversion."
"Now he sees the political climate, and suddenly says he will never raise taxes."
In a prepared statement provided to the press, Bangerter also criticized Wilson for accepting mayoral pay raises when he had promised he wouldn't; for running for a second term after telling voters he would leave if they adopted a "strong mayor" system, which they did; for running for the Senate during his second term; and for leaving in the middle of his third term to accept "a comfortable position" on the faculty of the University of Utah.
"Don't get me wrong," said Bangerter. "I don't doubt Ted's promises were well-intentioned. I'm not questioning his honesty. What I am saying is look at the record and ask yourself, "He did it before, will he do it again?"
While Bangerter seemed eager to snipe at his opponent, a spokesman said Wilson would not respond in kind.
"Governor Bangerter is trying to make this a very negative campaign in an attempt to cloud the real issues," said Rob Jolley, Wilson's campaign manager. "What Utah voters are looking for is someone who can get the state moving again.
"We hope Governor Bangerter will stop resorting to this type of negative campaigning and will talk more about the real issue - the future of Utah."
Bangerter also said Wilson's "home campaign is aimed at making him acceptable to Utah Republicans" and accused him of skipping the national Democratic Convention to de-emphasize his Democratic orientation.