Despite Jon Huntsman's retreat, the field of candidates in Utah's gubernatorial race is actually becoming a bit more crowded.
Orem physician David Hewett says he'll challenge front-runner Ted Wilson for the Democratic nomination, and American Party member Arly Pedersen has thrown his hat into the ring as well.Dean Samuels, a Midvale school teacher, has entered the governor's race as a Republican, filing papers with the lieutenant governor's office, while Mearle Marsh II of Holladay has also added his name to the list, saying he intends to run as a write-in candidate.
The Deseret News was unsuccessful Thursday in attempts to get comments from Samuels and Marsh.
Hewett, 49, acknowledges that he will raise just a fraction of the campaign money Wilson has and will have little chance of drawing away the support of the party organization from the former Salt Lake mayor. But Hewett, who has officially filed to run, maintains he is a viable candidate and his grass-roots candidacy is not merely symbolic.
"I'm more interested in getting contributions from individuals, rather than from power groups," Hewett said.
Pedersen is building his campaign on promises to fight government waste, lower taxes and support a move to rescind Utah's vote for a constitutional convention.
"Although taxes are a definite issue in this campaign, tax raises are merely a symptom of government programs that have gotten out of hand," Pedersen said.
Hewett, who has a private practice in Orem, says his medical background is an asset to the state. Most politicians have backgrounds in law or business and lack the experience to deal with critical issues like AIDS and the medical malpractice insurance crisis, he said.
"Candidates tend to be people who can get support, but they don't have the capacity to deal with problems. They're not capable of firm solutions," he said.
He said efforts to combat the spread of AIDS in Utah are not making headway, and the state must pursue an administrative solution rather than the legislative one now being attempted.
He supports open enrollment at state-funded schools of law and medicine, claiming enrollment caps and strict acceptance criteria limit the constitutional freedom of those who want to study but are denied the opportunity.
Pedersen, who owns a metal casting company, said a governor should be willing to cut programs, which will almost automatically lead to reduced taxes.
He said education is a good place to start. He said private schools can educate students for about $1,000 less per year per pupil than public schools, which he interprets as an indication that public schools can be made more efficient. He said the education system could be revamped to virtually eliminate state and local school boards and give school principals leeway to run schools efficiently.
Hewett is urging the state's Democratic leadership to stay out of the intra-party nomination fight.
"They have to keep the decision of who will run for governor as close to the voters as possible, rather than having the party leadership decide," he said. "They're taking away from the voters the power to choose, and that's not right."
Pedersen, on the other hand, believes a vote for either the Republican or Democratic parties will result in higher taxes.