The race for Utah attorney general has closed to a dead heat, with Democrat Paul Van Dam gaining nine points in the last month on Republican incumbent David Wilkinson.
Van Dam, who was the Salt Lake County attorney in the mid-1970s, is now favored by 41 percent of the voters, found Dan Jones & Associates in a survey conducted for the Deseret News and KSL-TV.Wilkinson still leads with 43 percent support, Jones found. Sixteen percent are still undecided.
Among those who said they are very likely to vote in November, Wilkinson is favored by 43 percent, Van Dam by 42 percent and 15 percent are undecided.
A month ago, Jones found Wilkinson had 43 percent support, so the two-term incumbent has remained the same. But Van Dam had only 32 percent support in early September. He has gained 9 points on Wilkinson.
Wilkinson said Saturday evening that Van Dam has been advertising heavily on the radio during the last three weeks, "and we have just now begun our radio campaign, so this is not surprising.
"Secondly, I haven't slipped any. My 43 percent is the same as a month ago. What's happened is that my opponent has gained from the undecided vote from the poll of a month ago. We're getting our message out now how we have defended traditional Utah family values and how Mr. Van Dam has been an obstacle to law enforcement. And we think the next poll will show our doing better."
Van Dam said he isn't surprised by his gains. "People didn't know me, didn't know what I had done and what David has not done. I was a prosecutor for so many years. David has not personally prosecuted one case in his life."
Van Dam said in the past month he has had billboards put up and lawn signs put out "throughout the state." "And we've been running some radio advertisements and been seen on some TV debates." In the next four weeks, Van Dam promised more radio spots and said "we'll even do some TV advertisements."