Here's what's happening in Utah's congressional races:
- Kenley Brunsdale is calling Jim Hansen a liar.- Genevieve Atwood is saying Wayne Owens doesn't care about senior citizens.
- Karl Snow continues to be attacked by John Harmer supporters over his dealings with a convicted stock swindler.
Just another week on the election trail.
But that trail ends Nov. 6, just two-and-a-half weeks away. So now is the time for candidates and their opponents to bring out their big guns. It does no good to fire them too late, or not at all.
Democrat Brunsdale is clearly frustrated. He's run an aggressive, hard campaign. He started by traveling the district, developing issues. He then turned the issues into "bills" and sent them to Republican Hansen, asking him to do something to help his constituents. Hansen ignored him.
Brunsdale then began attacking Hansen for his inaction. He showed specific instances where, Brunsdale says, the 10-year incumbent could have acted in the hall of Congress to benefit 1st District residents. Hansen ignored him.
Now Brunsdale is stalking Hansen in debates, picking the congressman's statements apart, showing what he says are "blatant misstatements of the truth" - in effect, lies. Hansen stays in Washington, D.C., going about his congressional work.
Are Brunsdale's tactics working? No. Hansen holds a commanding 33 point lead in the polls, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows. In short, unless Hansen makes a monumental mistake, this race is over. Brunsdale has positioned himself well for a 1992 run at the 1st District should Hansen retire, but he's failed to make inroads against the incumbent.
Atwood made a real charge at Owens after she won the Sept. 11 GOP primary against Dan Marriott. People love it when the underdog wins, and Atwood's campaign clearly had momentum after that upset. But she appears to have stalled. While a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll showed her within 10 points of Owens, and her own poll showed an 8 point race, other polls show a much wider margin. Owens' own tracking polls show a 10-11 point margin and holding.
Should the Democratic-controlled Congress come up with some horrendous tax-increase package these final days, Owens could falter. But with the whole U.S. House up for election in two weeks, that isn't likely.
Atwood has picked up the pace of her criticism - like saying the two-term Democrat doesn't care about senior citizens because he voted in favor of the original budget/tax package that increased Medicare payments to senior citizens. But Hansen voted for it also and GOP Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch may have gone along as well, given the chance.
And Owens isn't resting while working in D.C. with Hansen - he's running his first media advertisements criticizing Atwood, saying she voted against education, social services and veterans while in the Utah Legislature (Atwood says those votes are purposely misconstrued by Owens).
Most people believe the 3rd District race ended Sept. 11, when Snow beat GOP opponent John Harmer. Democrat Bill Orton is a very articulate, aggressive candidate. But the district is one of - if not the - most Republican in the nation. No matter how conservative Orton speaks, how much sense he makes, his task is nearly impossible.
Snow is well-spoken and congressional in bearing and appearance. He's not lighting fires under district voters, but then 3rd District constituents aren't used to charismatic leaders.
Snow continues to be attacked over some penny stock dealings he had in the mid-1980s. Harmer and some of his supporters led those attacks during a primary campaign that struggled through the mud. Those attacks continue through an off-campus BYU newspaper published by a relative of one of Harmer's strongest supporters.
Snow hired an attorney and accountant to "investigate" those stock dealings, which have been reported extensively in the media. Their report "clears" the former state Senate leader of any wrongdoing. It appears Snow will glide to victory. His concern is how tarnished he'll emerge from the election, and whether that stain will last into 1992 to feed a challenge by another arch-conservative like Harmer.
So, two weeks out from Election Day it looks like Hansen and Snow will be in Congress come January, with odds favoring Owens' return also.