Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, is among 19 House Democrats considered most vulnerable to face re-election trouble stemming from their votes against going to war.
That's according to Charles E. Cook, a top political commentator in Washington. He writes the "Cook Political Report" newsletter and a column in the newspaper "Roll Call." Both are closely watched by political action committees and others who decide where to concentrate campaign resources.Cook chose in "Roll Call" this week the 19 House members he feels are most likely to have trouble among the 179 Democrats, three Republicans and one independent who voted Jan. 12 against authorizing force against Iraq. Owens was the only member of the Utah delegation who voted not to support President Bush.
Cook put Owens in that group based simply on math: namely, President Bush won by more than 55 percent in 1988 in his district, and Owens has had tough races in the 1980s - although he won comfortably last year.
Only 19 Democrats met such criteria, and Cook suggested that because of it, others who voted against the president likely won't be hurt much by their votes.
Owens said last week that he expects his original vote against war to be an issue.
"I did exactly what I thought was right, and I defend it. I think it was a good rational vote. We'll never know had sanctions been tried if we could have avoided killing 100,000 to 150,000 Iraqi soldiers and 100-plus Americans. But since the day of the vote - which we lost - I've supported wholeheartedly the war effort."
Owens has already suffered his first post-war political attack for that vote, when Utah Republican Party Chairman Criag Moody blasted it last week at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention.