The race between Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Republican challenger Richard Snelgrove has entered its "dog days," with barks, snarls and yelps from both campaigns.
The dog sounds were featured on radio advertising by both candidates, and at least one commercial has upset listeners enough that the computer-generated sound of a yelping dog has been deleted.A pack of dogs - actually members of Owens' campaign staff in costume - showed up outside a Snelgrove press conference held at Republican Party headquarters Thursday.
Snelgrove greeted the opposition's delegation, which was not allowed into the headquarters, and accepted a two-paragraph statement from the congressman filled with at least a dozen puns.
"Everybody nose my record, and your portrayal of it, while dogged, has been a doggone shame. Fortunately, Richard, your bark has been worse than your bite," Owens' statement concluded.
The canine theme first surfaced in an Owens radio commercial that has Snelgrove being cornered by a snarling political watchdog for claiming the congressman voted to abolish right-to-work laws.
That ad has been answered by a Snelgrove ad with the sound of yelping as an announcer warns, "Wayne Owens, you'd better watch out who you're barking at."
The pained noise, which some listeners said sounded as if a dog were being kicked, drew enough complaints of animal brutality that the campaign has eliminated the sound.
The commercials were paid for by the Right to Work Political Action Committee. The group's founder, Reed Larson, endorsed Snelgrove at the Thursday press conference and criticized Owens' vote on a labor bill.
When Snelgrove was questioned about the complaints received about the commercial, Larson told reporters dogs shouldn't get in the way of the real issue.
Together with the cost of bringing Larson to Utah for the press conference, the right-to-work group is expected to spend the maximum on Snelgrove's campaign that is allowed under the law, $5,000.
Owens has responded to the charge raised in the commercials and at the press conference before, contending that he has never voted against right-to-work laws.
He said the bill in question dealt with so-called "double-breasting," which he said prevents construction companies from setting up non-union subsidiaries in order to circumvent union agreements.