Bob Bernick's article of March 20 and your editorial of March 21 criticized Utah Democrats for not fielding a candidate to run against Chris Cannon for the 3rd Congressional District race. I agree with your conclusion that, "Utah, like the nation at large, needs two parties to provide choice, healthy debate and a certain check and balance." You miss the point, however, to believe that running a "warm body" is the way to provide meaningful choice in the 3rd District.

The 3rd District has become a plutocracy, which the dictionary defines as "government by the wealthy" and "a con-trolling class of rich men." Chris Cannon is a multimillionaire who spent $1.4 million to defeat Bill Orton in 1996. Utah Democrats recruited a top-tier mainstream candidate to run against Cannon this year, but that person ultimately decided he could not fairly run against someone who can and will pull a million dollars out of his wallet to buy the election.Ask yourself, why would Cannon spend on one election 10 times what he earns as a congressman? The simple answer is that he can. Although this makes no economic sense, it enables him to maintain an uneven playing field that drives away the very people who would like to give voters in the 3rd District a real choice. Until we as a nation undertake meaningful campaign finance reform, we deserve to have plutocrats like Cannon buying their congressional seats like stockbrokers on the New York Stock Exchange.

Republicans at the national level, including our junior senator Bob Bennett, worked hard to defeat campaign finance reform in Congress this year. Unfortunately, Utahns seem not to care about this as an issue of good government. Enid Greene bought her election four years ago with money her husband stole from her father. Greene used that money to pay for the defeat of Karen Shepherd, a very effective congresswoman who did in fact give voters a real choice. Two years ago both Cannon and Merrill Cook bought their elections, too.

Democracy in Utah is being undermined, but not by Utah Democrats. Democracy is being undermined by "a controlling class of rich men." Please explain to me and your readers exactly how you believe running a "warm body" against a plutocrat like Chris Cannon is going to change "government by the wealthy" in the 3rd District. I'd like to know.

Meg Holbrook

Chairwoman, Utah State Democratic Party

Salt Lake City