Questionable campaigning went right up to the ballot box in the 3rd Congressional District - not much of a surprise considering the tenor of the race.
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake County local GOP officials tried to shore up the candidacy of County Commissioner Bart Barker, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Jim Bradley. Gov. Norm Bangerter, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Commission Chairman Mike Stewart, all Republicans, said Monday that Barker should be re-elected because he works well with the rest of the GOP commission and represents county residents' values. The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows Bradley with a 5 percentage point lead, 46 percent to 41 percent.The mean-spirited nature of the 3rd District race showed up again Sunday in a full-page advertisement that appeared in the Utah County Journal - a free tabloid newspaper that is delivered to 68,000 Utah County homes. The ad talks about the family values of Republican Karl Snow and Democrat Bill Orton. The ad "compares" Snow's large family, a picture of which is in the ad with the caption "Karl Snow and his family," to Orton's.
But Orton, who is not married, is pictured alone, with the caption `Bill Orton and his family.' "Some candidates want you to believe that their personal values don't matter," the ad reads. "Most issues facing the United States Congress seriously affect our families. Values do matter! Vote Republican." The ad clearly insinuates that because Orton is not married, he doesn't hold "family" values. At the bottom of the ad it reads: "Paid for by the Utah Republican Party."
"We didn't know beforehand what the ad said, it was sloppily done and inflammatory," said Richard Snelgrove, state GOP chairman. Snelgrove didn't want to say who ordered the advertisement and paid for it.
The man responsible, sources say, is Steven Studdert, a former aide to Ronald Reagan and George Bush who returned to Utah last year and became involved in Utah GOP politics.
Studdert is chairman of the Snow campaign. He was out of town Monday, and family members could not give a number where he could be reached.
"This person (Studdert) asked if we'd do the ad. We said yes, but wanted to see the copy beforehand. In the last-minute rush, we never saw it, never approved of it," said Snelgrove. The state GOP will, however, honor its commitment and pay for the ad, which cost $900.
Orton lashed out at the ad, saying that "Karl Snow and the Republicans have determined that anything goes.
"The only way to beat me is to destroy me personally, to misrepresent where I stand on issues, to destroy my reputation, my integrity and make direct personal attacks against me, my family and my values," Orton said.
Orton said according to his personal beliefs "marriage is eternal. I don't want to make an eternal mistake . . . it hasn't worked out for me yet in life. I don't believe that makes me any less capable of representing the people in my district."
Snow issued an apology to Orton and residents of the 3rd District Monday. Even though Studdert, his campaign chairman, asked GOP officials to pay for the ad, Snow said he was "appalled by the placement of the ad and had no knowledge of the content of the ad until I read it myself on Sunday morning."
Snelgrove said the party stands by "the truth of the ad, he isn't married."
"The truth is fair game, I suppose. But you must use proper taste and tact. That wasn't shown (in the ad)."
Snow said "one's marital status has nothing to do with the values one adheres to and the direction one leads his life." Snow said the majority of his campaign staff is single and that he himself did not marry until age 30.
The Snow campaign also paid for an advertisement in the Provo Daily Herald on Sunday that outlined Snow's stands on issues and then listed "stands" by Orton. However, Orton said many of his "stands" were misrepresented in the ad.
For example, the ad said Orton has only lived in the district since 1989. Orton, born and raised in Ogden, has lived in Provo since the early 1980s.
Clark Caras, Snow's campaign spokesman, said the only misrepresentation in the ad was the date of Orton's residency, which he said was a "typo."
The ad also says Snow "supports" the right to bear arms and lists Orton as a question mark; the information on Orton's Second Amendment stand came from the November 1990 issue of Guns and Ammo magazine, said Caras. The magazine did list Orton with a question mark; however, Guns and Ammo gave Snow an "F" rating on gun issues.
The ad lists several of Snow's proposed program cuts and lists Orton as a question mark on such issues; among other things, Orton supports reforming welfare and other entitlement programs as well as defense spending.
The 3rd District race is much closer than expected. The district - which includes the southwest part of Salt Lake County, Utah County and counties to the east and south - is heavily Republican - perhaps the most Republican U.S. House district in the nation. Yet the latest Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the newspaper and TV station shows that among registered voters very interested in the race, Snow leads Orton 49 percent to 39 percent.