Second Congressional District aspirant Richard Snelgrove is only 33 years old, young by congressional standards.
But he's the same age Wayne Owens was when he first went to Congress in 1972, old enough, Snelgrove said, to defeat the incumbent."There's deja vu here," Snelgrove said. "A young newcomer defeating a veteran politician for the 2nd District. I like it." (In 1972 Owens defeated Sherman Lloyd, an eight-year congressional veteran.)
Owens beat Lloyd by walking hundreds of miles through the then-huge 2nd District. But he returned to the House in 1986 in part by raising and spending $700,000 in the now small 2nd District. (The district is part of Salt Lake County).
Snelgrove will walk the district, but he also wants to raise $700,000 to match Owens' spending this year. The 1986 GOP candidate, Tom Shimizu, raised only about $400,000 against Owens.
Times change, and this young politician said he knows what it takes to be successful in the 1980s.
He has hired the professional Washington, D.C., campaign consulting firm of Ellsworth/Richardson Associates. He has a young but experienced campaign staff, including a full-time fund-raising person. And Snelgrove said he has researched Owens' record thoroughly.
"We know what we have to do to beat Wayne, and we're going to do what it takes," Snelgrove said.
Snelgrove is part-owner and vice president of Snelgrove Ice Cream Co., a business institution in Utah. Snelgrove is a recognized name that the campaign will use, he said.
"I'm told the name Snelgrove has favorable identification in the community. People know Snelgrove's (ice cream), but they don't yet know Richard Snelgrove. They will."
Snelgrove's billboards, soon to be up in the county, won't show him popping out of an ice cream cone or anything that corny, but he said the company name will be used "in a creative way" in early radio and outdoor advertising spots. He declined to elaborate.
This is the first elective office Snelgrove has run for. But, he points out, Owens' 1972 election to Congress was his first race as well. Snel-grove does have political experience: He was the Salt Lake County GOP chairman before he resigned earlier this year to run against Owens.
"I'm not a lawyer or professional politician (like Owens)," he said. "I'm a small businessman who has had to meet a payroll, develop new (business) strategies, deal with government regulation and bureaucracies, create jobs."
Snelgrove has an uphill battle against Owens and he knows it. He trails Owens in public opinion polls by 30 points. But the 2nd District is about 40 percent Republican. If Snelgrove can hold the Republicans and pick up a few independents, it will be a close race.
A number of Republicans voted for Owens two years ago, and Snel-grove vows that won't happen in 1988.
"Wayne is vulnerable politically, because of the makeup of the 2nd District, and he's vulnerable on the issues as well," Snelgrove said.
"He voted against military aid for the Contras. What are they supposed to do, throw Band-Aids and crutches at the communists?
"He opposed spending money on the C-17 (cargo plane), a needed defense program that means hundreds of jobs for the 2nd District.
"He voted for more federal taxes. We in Utah understand that we can't pay more taxes," Snelgrove said.