Kyle K. Kopitke wants to be a U.S. senator, he announced Saturday.

Kopitke, 33, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for Salt Lake County assessor last November, taking out a second mortgage on his home to support his bid.Kopitke, who works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a mass-file consultant, wants to return government to the people, he said.

Special-interest groups, lobbyists and political action committees that buy political campaigns are more dangerous than hostile missiles, the candidate said. Monied special-interest groups are a "cancer eating away at the American dream and the Constitution, eating away at our Utah, our America."

Kopitke pledged to set a contribution cap of $100 per household and not to accept political contributions from special-interest groups.

Kopitke said he plans a grass-roots, issue-oriented campaign. He expects three or four other Democrats to run for the office against incumbent Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, so Kopitke said he announced early in order to get a head start.

"The other people who run for statewide office or governor are millionaires or near-millionaires. I think we just can't allow elections to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

"The average Joes and Janes can't compete with special-interest groups. I understand what it is to struggle. I know what it means to struggle paycheck to paycheck. The citizenry is hungry for a candidate who will not be owned by special-interest groups."

Kopitke claimed a strong passion for America. He said his candidacy will be aimed at average Utahns, who are upset about taxes, air pollution and rising breast cancer rates among women.

Kopitke said he doesn't think of his senatorial candidacy as a race against Garn. But he did say he had something in common with the Republican incumbent. Garn made headlines when he donated a kidney to his daughter. Kopitke can match that story, because he donated one to his older brother in 1976.