Only five weeks remain until Utahns pick their governor for the next four years. The three major candidates are fine-tuning their campaigns, busy at fund raising and planning their media advertisements for the final push.
Democrat Ted Wilson, ahead in the polls by 13 points, will continue his campaign of "telling people why he is the best leader," says Rob Jolley, Wilson's campaign manager.Gov. Norm Bangerter, who is trying to get dissatisfied Republican voters back into his fold, will talk about how he best reflects most Utahns' values and philosophies about government, says Dave Buhler, Bangerter's campaign manager.
Merrill Cook, the independent candidate who trails Wilson and Bangerter in the polls, says he's fighting on two fronts - convincing Utahns he's the candidate who can cut government, while protecting vital government services, and pushing the tax initiatives as well.
All three men are running some TV advertisements now, mostly time bought during broadcasts of the Olympic Games. How many TV, radio and newspaper commercials you see in October about Wilson, Bangerter and Cook will depend on how much money they have to spend.
Buhler said Bangerter's fund raising is going well. "We've brought in about $150,000 since our last financial report." The governor has raised between $650,000 and $700,000 total, Buhler said. The exact amount is difficult to determine because Bangerter, in an attempt to be open about his finances, has tried to include money raised over the past four years and used for political purposes.
Wilson has raised about $640,000, said Jolley. "We had three budgets for the campaign. One if we raised a lot of money, one if we raised a normal amount and one if we fell short. We're on schedule on the normal budget, moving toward a $900,000 campaign."
Cook is independently wealthy and always expected to put some of his own money into his race. Cook lost the Salt Lake mayoral race in 1985 and believes publicity about his own spending in that race harmed him. He's sensitive to that claim and originally said that this year he would match what he raised from contributors with his own money.
But several months ago, after donations
idn't come in as he expected, Cook said he plans to spend $200,000 out of his own pocket. Whatever else he can raise, he'll spend that as well. "We still plan on spending $300,000 in the campaign, two-thirds of our own, one-third from contributions," he said.
So far, Cook has spent $160,000, "and we've kept that two-thirds, one-third ratio."
Buhler didn't want to say what Bangerter's October TV ads will look like. The campaign is now running several ads aimed to show "how a person would see the governor if he was in his office talking to him face-to-face - a personal kind of ad that shows how the governor goes about making decisions."
Jolly said Wilson's current ads are aimed at getting Wilson's economic development and education strategies before voters. "Wilson is a leader. He has a plan for Utah. We're saying what we'll do, not attacking the opponent." Wilson's upcoming TV ads will be in that vein, Jolley said.
Buhler said Bangerter may or may not run some advertisements speaking to Bangerter's plans over the next four years. The governor is trying to woo dissatisfied Republican voters away from Wilson and Cook and into his camp. Toward that end, Bangerter will concentrate on showing his GOP values and basic conservatism.
Recent Deseret News/KSL-TV polls show that Wilson's strength among traditional Republican voters is dwindling. Jolley said, "We're concerned about that, but not overly concerned. We knew some of them would switch. But many Republicans will still vote for Wilson." Jolley said Wilson has no plans to fight the GOP defection directly, won't be mailing Republicans any literature or operate any telephone banks aimed at stopping the slippage.