Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, says widespread speculation that recent turns of events ensure he will not seek re-election next year is pure bunk.
"It's interesting that all these people are betting I won't run, because I don't know myself yet what I will do," Garn told the Deseret News Friday. "I will make my decision and a public announcement by August, and maybe much sooner."Two recent events led insiders and political newsletters - such as the influential Cook Political Report in Washington, which political action committees often use to decide where best to funnel their donations - to speculate Garn will not run.
One is the recent death of Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa. Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey will likely appoint a Democrat to replace him - giving Democrats a 12-seat majority in the Senate. That dims hopes of Republicans regaining control soon, and of Garn becoming a committee chairman again.
The other is a rumor that the man who Garn wanted most to run if he doesn't was political consultant/
insurance executive Michael Leavitt. Leavitt told reporters he will not run for the Senate, but may run for governor.
That led the Cook Political Report, for example, to say, "It now appears likely that incumbent Jake Garn will retire. . . . Garn has political exposure as the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee during the time when much of the S&L industry became unraveled and it would not take a terribly creative media consultant to hit a home run.
"Garn reportedly wanted to retire in 1986, but was convinced to stay in order to (unsuccessfully) help the GOP hold onto control in the Senate. He was said to be growing fed up with the body and wanted to go out and make money. That is said to be even more so today, and long-time Garn watchers are betting that he retires," the newsletter concluded.
But Garn said all such issues "have no weight on my decision at all. I've never made a personal decision on the basis of what other people are going to do. It has always been a personal decision between my family and me."
He said he is struggling because he loves his work as a senator, but wants to spend more time with his family and in Utah.
"Senator Jake Garn would like to stay, especially like when yesterday I watched the new space shuttle orbiter roll out and realized there would have been no fourth orbiter without my actions," he said, adding he is in the rare position of sitting on appropriations subcommittees that most directly affect Utah.
"On the other side is Jake Garn, husband and father. I've been doing this sort of work for 25 years, and would like normal hours and more time with my family. I still have two young children in grade school."
Garn, 58, added, "It's like an out of body experience, sitting back watching Jake Garn senator argue with Jake Garn father and husband . . . - and waiting to see who wins."
He admitted that "being a committee chairman is a lot more fun than not being one," but said Heinz's death and replacement will not be a large factor in his decision - nor would the identity of a Republican nominee to replace him.
He also said he is not worried about attacks on his actions regarding S&Ls. "I was right on the S&L issue and the record shows that," he said. "I would love to see someone try to make it an issue so I could bring up my record."
Garn noted that despite some criticism, many have praised his efforts to avoid the S&L crisis. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman William Seidman, for example, said Garn is one of the few S&L heroes. "Someone ought to erect a statue to me somewhere," Garn joked.
He also said a desire to make more money away from the Senate is no longer a consideration.
"A few years ago, it was," he said. "But today I wouldn't live in any different house. I wouldn't drive any different car . . . I might buy an expensive airplane," he joked.
"But the important things in my life - my wife, children, grandchildren and spirituality - don't depend on money. Money would not have prevented the death of my first wife, and would not have made a difference with (his daughter) Sue's diabetes and my donating my kidney to her. Those are the important things in life."