Scott Matheson Jr. and Republican Jim Hansen lead an early field of U.S. Senate hopefuls, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
The election is more than a year away, and the GOP field will be determined by whether Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, runs for re-election or retires. Garn will make his announcement sometime this spring or summer. All of the possible GOP candidates say they won't run if Garn seeks re-election.But aspirants on both sides are pondering the race now.
Pollster Dan Jones & Associates asked 604 Utahns to rank, on a scale of 1 to 5, whether they wanted the possible candidates to run. A ranking of 1 meant the respondent very much didn't want the candidate to run; a 5 meant he or she very much did want the person to run. The higher the mean score, the greater the number of respondents who wanted the person to run.
Because Garn's candidacy would skew any results, Jones framed the question with the assumption that Garn was not seeking re-election.
Matheson, son of the late governor, leads the pack with a mean score of 3.34. Hansen leads the Republicans with a score of 3.09.
The poll was conducted March 1-4. Since then, Hansen has talked up the possibility that he'll run for governor, not the Senate. However, he hasn't closed the door on a Senate race.
"I want Jake to run again. But if he doesn't, the RNCC (Republican National Congressional Committee) has asked me to look at that (Senate) race and I will," Hansen said. "I know the system well and could move over to the Senate relatively easily, in terms of adjustment, I believe."
Matheson says he hasn't made up his mind about running. "I'm seriously considering it," he said. He said he'll make his decision regardless of what Garn does, "but certainly you have to take in the competition" as part of the decision. Matheson also has been mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate. He said his natural interests presently lie more in Congress.
A poll this early reflects mostly name identification. And Matheson is well aware that his name is helping him. "If I run for any office, next year or later, I will make it very clear that citizens should judge me on my own merits. I'm very sensitive to this feeling (about his father)." Former Gov. Scott M. Matheson passed away last October.
Other possible Republican candidates for Senate, should Garn not run, include: Geneva Steel president Joe Cannon, who got a 2.75 mean score; House Speaker Craig Moody, R-Sandy, who got a 2.71 score; and insurance executive Michael Leavitt, who got a 2.52 score.
Cannon says there's a high chance he'll run for the Senate if Garn doesn't. Leavitt says he's making his decision now - the toughest of his life. Moody says he's considering the race, but is concentrating on being speaker of the House for another year.
Other possible Democratic candidates include former Salt Lake County assessor candidate Kyle Kopeckne, who already has announced he's running regardless of Garn's actions, and former Harvard professor Douglas Anderson, who says he's "very serious about the race" but hasn't make a final decision yet.
Kopeckne gets a mean score of 2.27. Anderson's score is 2.58.
There will be an election for Senate in 1992. Jake Garn has not announced yet if he will seek another term. The following Republicans and Democrats are being mentioned as possible candidates for the Senate in 1991. On a scale of 1 to 5, with one being not in favor and five being very much in favor, please tell me how you feel about each candidate running for senator.
Not in Very Much Don't Mean
Favor In favor know
Owner Joe Cannon 11% 15% 19% 12% 5% 37% 2.75%
Utah House Speaker
10% 14% 22% 11% 3% 40% 2.71
Michael Leavitt 9% 12% 17% 5% 2% 55% 2.52
1st Dist. U.S. Rep
Jim Hansen 15% 11% 21% 25% 12% 16% 3.09
Kyle Kopeckne 9% 13% 10% 3% 1% 64% 2.27
Douglas Anderson 7% 11% 14% 5% 1% 62% 2.58
Scott Matheson Jr. 5% 9% 27% 20% 12% 26% 3.34