Only one more day of campaigning. For some candidates, it's a relief - victory just 24 hours away. For others, a heartbreak - what to be done to make up an impossible deficit.
Tuesday is election day, and the careers of hundreds of candidates hang in the balance. Will Rep. Wayne Owens be voted out of office? Will Utah elect its first congresswoman in 40 years? Will a Democrat win in the 3rd Congressional District?Republican and Democratic party workers started telephoning Monday, urging the party faithful, or those identified as voting for their candidates, to turn out.
Deseret News/KSL-TV pollster Dan Jones says voter turnout could be the difference in several races, especially in Salt Lake County where GOP incumbent Commissioner Bart Barker is in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Jim Bradley.
"The weather could be the deciding factor in some legislative races," said state Democratic Party Chairman Peter Billings Jr. If it's cold and snowy, keeping less hearty voters away from the polls, close races could tip one way or the other.
The election day forecast calls for scattered snow showers during the morning, breezy north winds and high temperatures in the mid-40s along the Wasatch Front.
Jones predicts a voter turnout of between 51 percent and 55 percent. Not nearly the 75 percent voter turnout Utahns give in presidential election years but not as poor as the 15-20 percent that accompanies many off-year municipal races.
There's no election for governor or U.S. senator this year. The three U.S. House races take the spotlight - 10-year incumbent Rep. Jim Hansen opposed by Democratic newcomer Kenley Brunsdale in the 1st District; incumbent Democrat Owens against Republican Genevieve Atwood in the 2nd District; and Republican Karl Snow attempting to succeed retiring Rep. Howard Nielson - challenged by Democrat Bill Orton - in the 3rd District.
While there's no statewide race, all Utahns will vote on removing the sales tax from food. Merrill Cook and his Independent Party of Utah got the tax removal question on the ballot via citizen initiative. Cook is joined in his support by the state Democratic Party, which favors removal providing hikes in other taxes come if needed to keep revenues equal.
The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll, published Sunday, shows the food tax removal measure failing. Jones also found that Hansen holds a healthy lead over Brunsdale, Owens leads Atwood and Snow is ahead of Orton.
Last-minute campaigning and get-out-the-vote efforts built Monday.
Atwood received a telephone call of support from President Bush on Sunday. Bush urged Utahns to vote for Atwood, saying he needed more Republicans in the U.S. House to "fight the liberal Democrats." Mrs. Bush visited Utah last week to endorse and support Atwood, and Atwood immediately cut a TV advertisement showing the first lady stumping for her. Monday, U.S. Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, visited Salt Lake and endorsed Atwood. Whether the last-minute campaigning by national Republicans will be enough to turn the tide against Owens remains to be seen.
Owens came out with a new TV advertisement of his own over the weekend. This one criticizes Atwood's directorship of the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, a post she resigned to run for Congress.
The state Republican Party spent more than $60,000 this year updating its telephone lists in Salt Lake County. Telemarketers tried to call every county household, asking if the residents were Republicans, or leaning toward voting for Republicans this year. Monday and Tuesday those phone banks will be buzzing, calling back the GOP supporters and urging them to vote.
Democrats are doing the same thing, as are some special interest groups, like the Utah Education Association and Utah Public Employee Association, that call their members asking them to support local candidates who agree with the groups' ideals.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. A list of Salt Lake County polling places ran in the Sunday Deseret News, along with a sample ballot for the county. To find your voting place call the Salt Lake County Clerk, 468-3427, or the League of Women Voters, 272-8683.