"Norm fails, Ted bails, taxes swell, people wail. Get Utah Cooking." - A tax protester at Saturday's rally.
More than 2,000 sign-waving Utahns, chanting "let's get Cook. . .ing," gathered on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Saturday to give the state a loud repeat lesson in the ABC's.The so-called "last hurrah" for supporters of the three tax initiatives - A, B and C - was also a campaign rally for independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook, who predicted victory Nov. 8.
"In 14 years across this nation there has not been a statewide independent candidacy that has taken fire like this has," Cook told the cheering crowd, which hoisted signs reading, "Let's cook Norm, Ted and the UEA; Vote ABC," "Taxation with Representation is Worth Fighting For," "Utah Needs a Moses, Not a Exodus," and "Prosperity Follows Tax Cuts: Cook for Governor."
"I can tell you that on Nov. 8 the results will be Merrill Cook, 38 percent; Ted Wilon, 34 percent, and Gov. Bangerter, 27.5 percent," the candidate confidently predicted.
Away from the exuberant crowd, opponents of the tax initiatives met at Washington Elementary School to distribute literature outlining the "consequences" of the initiatives. The initiatives would limit property tax rates and government growth, roll back tax increases passed by the 1987 Legislature and lower income tax rates, and give parents of children in private schools a tax credit.
"We felt it was better to try to put information in the hands of Utah voters than to hold protest rallies," said Jim Jardine, Taxpayers for Utah spokesman.
Jardine said more than 50,000 volunteers have distributed anti-initiative literature through an extensive door-to-door campaign.
"Our effort has been non-partisan; we haven't endorsed or opposed any candidate," he said. "But our reading of the public polls indicates that there has been a tremendous upsurge in voter information and the people who have studied the issues are now voting against the initiatives."
To educate the undecided "floaters," some 100,000 copies of a pamphlet printed by the Tax Limitation Coalition were given to rally participants at the Capitol for distribution throughout the state. Souvenir caps, mugs, T-shirts were also available, as was a tape of the tax-limitation song "Quiet as a Mouse," sung by its composer Chuck Tharp.
Camille Cook, an opera singer, who has doubled as her husband's campaign manager and advertising specialist, also led the crowd in rousing rendition of "God Bless America."
But it was the candidate himself, and his criticism of biased pollsters and "banana Republicans," that ignited the spirited crowd.
Attacking the "scare tactics" of other gubernatorial candidates, Cook drew a scenario of what would happen if a Utah family asked Ted Wilson or Norm Bangerter for help in adjusting a household budget by 6 percent.
"They would put one of your kids up for adoption. They would put a lock on your refrigerator, and would send grandma packing out into the cold," he said.
Those candidates, he said, are predicting devastation to social service, health and school programs should the initiatives pass.
Yet, Cook said, state government could save $30 million in Salt Lake County alone by consolidating schools; $17 million through competitive bidding of school lunches and busing programs.
Cook, who urged his supporters to get out the vote, warned that "a vote for Norm Bangerter is a vote for Ted Wilson.
"There is not a dime's worth of difference (between the two candidates), not a nickle's worth of difference. There's not a mill's worth of difference," he said, referring to one tenth of one cent, not radio-show host Mills Crenshaw, another speaker at the rally.
Crenshaw, who helped spark the initiative movement, said that during the administrations of Calvin Rampton, Scott Matheson and Norm Bangerter the population of the state grew 65 percent, the consumer price index grew 241 percent and direct government expenditures grew 727 percent.
"Utah's government is totally out of control."