Calling the Utah 2nd Congressional District one of the "top targeted races in America," the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee not surprisingly endorsed the GOP candidate, Richard Snelgrove.
The endorsement of Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Michigan, at a Tuesday press conference also came with a $5,000 check and the pledge of $50,000 from in-kind contributions.Snelgrove, a Salt Lake ice cream company executive, is challenging Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, who is seeking his second consecutive term. Owens served his first term from 1972-74, but chose to run for the Senate in 1974 in an unsuccessful race against Republican Jake Garn.
Owens was endorsed earlier in July by the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee, when Rep. Beryl Anthony, D-Ark., visited Salt Lake City and pledged similar financial help.
Vander Jagt, who flew into Salt Lake City to make a brief statement on behalf of Snelgrove at the Little America Motel, said the appearance was only his second this campaign season on behalf of a congressional candidate.
He said that fewer than 10 candidates nationwide will receive both a personal visit from him and the same amount of money Snelgrove is getting, which is the maximum allowed under federal election laws.
The reason for the national party's interest in the campaign, Vander Jagt told reporters gathered for a press conference, is that Owens is a liberal in a conservative district.
A recent issue of Campaigns and Elections, a magazine based in Washington, D.C., named Utah's 2nd Congressional District seat one of the nation's most vulnerable Democratic seats.
Vander Jagt referred to the article, as well as to Snelgrove's background as a businessman familiar with what GOP stands for this election: "Growth, opportunity and progress for the future."
The 2nd Congressional District is a Republican district, Vander Jagt said, using as an example the high percentage of voters there who supported President Reagan in 1984.
"Wayne Owens is a liberal in a district in the most conservative state in America," Vander Jagt said, adding that Snelgrove will benefit from the candidacies of Vice President George Bush and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Although Snelgrove continues to trail Owens in the polls, both he and Vander Jagt said the gap between the candidates will narrow as election day draws nearer. Snelgrove said he is hoping to see results from $21,000 worth of television commercials being aired this week.
Those commercials were produced in Salt Lake City with the help of two creative consultants supplied by the National Republican Committee, Snelgrove said. That accounts for about $5,000 worth of the $50,000 in in-kind contributions being supplied by the committee.