Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, may have won re-election last week, but it cost him the $35,000-or-so raise that House members approved for themselves.
Hansen gave it up to score points during debates the week before the election - one of many bizarre turns in a very surprising election statewide.Hansen's pay raise was given up when an aide, Howard Rigtrup, was sitting in for Hansen in a debate against his challenger, Democrat Kenley Brunsdale.
Brunsdale recalls, "Rigtrup said his boss would donate the raise to charity. I said, `Wait a minute. Are you sure? This is something new.' Rigtrup said he was sure, and it was nothing new."
Hansen had told the press in Washington he would simply accept the raise, even though he had voted against it. Brunsdale made it a campaign issue by finding an old Hansen newsletter claiming he would never vote for or accept a pay raise.
The pledge to give the raise to charity was repeated by another Hansen surrogate at a debate later the same day.
And when Brunsdale and Hansen later met personally on a radio debate, Brunsdale again extracted a promise from Hansen that he would donate his raise to charity.
"But I also got him to commit that he wouldn't just pay his (church) tithing with it," Brunsdale said. "I said on the radio that LDS people would consider that in poor taste because tithing is supposed to have an element of sacrifice, and non-LDS people would be upset if it would just go to the church."
Hansen's press secretary, Rick Guldan, verified that Hansen plans to give the raise to charity. "He has about 28 different charities that he gives to," he said.
Will Hansen reveal how much he gives to each charity? "Probably not," Guldan said. So it may be tough for the press and voters to know for sure whether Hansen keeps his pledge.
House members received a raise from $89,900 to $96,600 this year. Pay is scheduled to increased to $120,000 on Jan. 1 plus the same cost-of-living raise that other government employees receive - which could raise it to about $125,000. That would more than a $35,000 salary increase in just over a year.
Several other strange sidelights have also surfaced to the surprising election where incumbents fell and Democrats invaded Republican strongholds. Here are some highlights:
IT COST OTHERS MONEY TOO - While Hansen may have lost his pay raise, two other House candidates spent a lot of their own money on House races too.
Democratic Congressman-elect Bill Orton loaned his campaign at least $35,000, according to the latest-available Federal Election Commission reports. Being a winner, he will likely find donors that are willing to make up that cost in after-election contributions.
But Republican Genevieve Atwood likely won't be so lucky because she lost. Reports show she loaned her campaign at least $120,000 out of her own pocket, and contributed another $4,361. But she said, "Losing my own money doesn't hurt near as much as losing other people's money. The people who gave $1,000 contributions - that really hurts."
GOP ISN'T SO GRAND ANYMORE - While Utah had been considered the most Republican state in the nation by both many Republicans and Democrats, the Democrats outpolled Republicans by a combined margin of 55-45 in the state's three U.S. House races.
The Democrats received 232,730 votes to 191,216 for Republicans - which means Democrats received 41,514 more votes, thanks to big wins by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Orton.
And if 6,539 voters in the 1st District had voted for Brunsdale instead of Hansen, Utah's House delegation would now be totally Democratic.
IT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE - Based purely on history, Orton's upset win over Republican Karl Snow should not have been a surprise.
In the 21 previous elections for open House seats in Utah, Democrats won 11 and the Republicans 10. Now the Democrats' record goes to 12-10.