Howard Nielson is the only congressman Utah's 3rd district has known since the district was created in 1982, and Nielson is confident that will still be the case after the Nov. 8 general election.
Although Democrats believe this is the year the Republican incumbent can be beaten, Nielson has a strong lead in the polls and has the confidence that comes from trouncing three Democratic challengers in a row."I feel confident I will win by a good margin," Nielson said.
Nielson made a five-day campaign tour of the district this week during his first trip to Utah since Democrat Bob Stringham beat Craig Oliver in the primary election.
Both Stringham and Oliver campaigned more against Nielson before the primary than they did against each other, but knowing which of the two will be named next to Nielson on the ballot has made little difference to Nielson in his campaign plans.
"Stringham will probably stress economic issues more where Oliver would have stressed social issues," Nielson told the Deseret News. "Both would have run hard. Stringham is probably the more aggressive of the two."
Nielson leads Stringham in the most recent polls by more than 20 points.
Stringham, a retired steel worker, former union secretary at Geneva and chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party since 1987, won the backing of the state AFL-CIO and has been campaigning heavily in Democratic and union strongholds near his home in Utah County and in Carbon County.
But Nielson believes Stringham's following of union members is not as strong as the AFL-CIO backing implies.
"His actions at Geneva Steel are very mixed. His record there is not all that good," Nielson said, claiming Stringham "tried to corner the labor market and blackmail the union," while the plant was in the process of being purchased.
There may be some irony to the fact that Nielson and Stringham have worked together on Geneva issues in the past.
Stringham said it was some of Nielson's weaknesses, which surfaced during their work together, that helped him decide to try and unseat the incumbent.
Stringham has also taken Nielson to task over Central Utah Project legislation.
Publicity about CUP and Nielson's suggestions that the National Guard has been "second rate" and that Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle should have considered withdrawing from the ticket are instances Stringham has called the best media exposure for a Democrat so far during the campaign. "It just denotes what he's done as a congressman," Stringham said.