Vice President Dan Quayle got a strong message Tuesday from a Utah County Republican who is planning to vote for Democrat Bill Orton in the 3rd District Congressional race.
The 3rd District may be "the most Republican of any in the United States," the letter faxed to Quayle said, but "don't think for a minute that you will arrive here to find any united Republican coalition for Karl Snow."Snow is the Republican candidate in the race. Quayle is scheduled to participate in a rally for Snow Thursday at Utah Valley Community College in Orem.
George Murdock, Orem, sent the letter to Quayle. He is a lifelong Republican who is "satisfied that Bill is going to vote closer to the way I think as a conservative Republican than the alternative out there."
Murdock's letter said Quayle's trip to Utah County will "draw national attention to the fact that a Democrat, Bill Orton, is going to win the race in this district. Of the 150 calls I have personally made to fellow Republican friends and associates, not one is voting for Karl Snow."
Murdock said Orton, a tax attorney, "would become the tax authority in the House" if elected.
Tuesday night, about 20 Republicans attended a meeting at the home of Doug Marriott to hear Orton's views on issues.
"How can you be a Democrat and sound so much like a Republican?" one member of the audience asked Orton.
Orton said he espouses conservative - rather than Democratic or Republican - ideas. He told the group he supports some portions of the Democratic platform and disagrees with others. He does not support the party line on abortion, the equal rights amendment or sex and alternative lifestyle education programs in public schools.
He said reform is needed in many entitlement programs, particularly welfare and Social Security.
After the meeting, several people said they, like Murdock, are opting to vote "for the man rather than the party," as proclaimed by Republicans for Orton campaign signs appearing around the valley.
Marriott, an Orem real estate developer, said that up until last week he was confused about how he would cast his vote; Marriott said he was not convinced that Snow would represent him well in Congress.
But after hearing Orton speak he is convinced "Bill will represent our district well."
So is Doug Horne, a Provo resident and president of Horne's Lodging Properties.
"This is the first time I've ever voted Democratic in my life," Horne said. "I think in this case, Orton appears to be a true conservative. A Democratic conservative can have more effect in influencing other Democrats than a liberal Republican can."
George Stewart, Provo, calls himself a "Goldwater conservative"; he was a staff worker on the Goldwater campaign in 1964 and has been a Republican county convention delegate. But Stewart will cast his vote in the congressional race for Orton.
"He (Orton) is not only more conservative (than Snow), he is more articulate," Stewart said.
William D. Moeller, an Alpine resident and chairman and chief executive officer of American Consolidated Mining Co., also plans to vote for Orton.
"If he (Orton) will stand up and say and do what he says he'll do, he'll be fine," Moeller said.
And if Orton turns out to be a chameleon? "If we don't like him, we can vote him out in two years," Horne said.
The Republicans said they do not support the national Democratic party platform and do not plan to cross party lines in other races.
What does Orton think of his newfound allies? He acknowledges that without some Republican support there is no way he can win the race. Orton said Republicans are finding that he shares their moral values, ideology on the role of government and conservative philosophy.
"I'm happy to get support from any source I can get it," he said. "One of the real surprises and shocks is that the Democratic party not only has a viable candidate but has a candidate who is mainstream on the issues."
A number of people left the meeting with Republicans for Orton signs to plant in their lawns. The signs, which show an elephant with his arm around a surprised donkey, list Orton as the "clean, conservative, courageous" choice for Congress. However, like snowflakes, the signs disappear almost as soon as they touch the ground.
2 GOP groups support Demo
Two groups using the name "Republicans for Orton" have formed to support the Democrat's bid for Congress.
One group is led by Salt Lake businessman Mike Schnable and has about 50 members. Schnable's group says Republican candidate Karl Snow "shows a lack of leadership" and "does not represent the principles of the Republican party."
Rose Higa, secretary for Schnable's group, says Orton has received no money from the state or national Democratic party and will be "free to vote his conscience rather than be coerced by either party."
The second group was organized by Kerry Smith of Roosevelt.
"We're actively pro-Orton," Smith said. "Bill spent time out here - he took the time to research and study the issues, such as the Indian affairs and oil policies."
Representatives of the two groups say they were not aware of each other when they formed their groups.