Lame-duck Republican Rep. J. Brent Haymond finds himself in demand - by the rival party.
The Democrats wouldn't mind seeing Haymond enter the House District 65 race as a write-in candidate, a prospect the veteran lawmaker wouldn't comment on Tuesday."That's good for us if Haymond comes in," said Robert "Bob" Davis, Utah County Democratic chairman.
Haymond could splinter the vote in a contest with fellow Republican Matthew Throckmorton, 30, thus paving the way for Democrat Glenn V. Bird to reclaim the seat he lost to Haymond nearly a decade ago. Independent American Party candidate Catherine C. Jensen is also on the November ballot.
Throckmorton, a former Independent American state Senate candidate, pulled off an upset at the Republican convention last spring when he ousted Haymond, who didn't muster enough delegate support to even force a primary election.
Rod Fudge, Utah County GOP chairman, said Haymond told him he "more than likely" won't file as a write-in candidate. The deadline is two weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
A new bylaw the county party approved last month might be among the reasons Haymond, who has had some personal financial troubles, stays out of the race. The provision discourages candidates from taking on fellow Republicans as write-ins by making them ineligible to carry the party banner in the next election cycle.
Fudge, using sports vernacular, describes it as a "red-shirt year."
"Anytime you have more than two (same-party candidates), you run the risk of fracturing the vote," he said. "It causes confusion, especially among Republicans."
Bird, a 49-year-old history and government teacher at Springville High School, isn't sure whether Haymond's presence would help or hurt his chances.
"It's hard to say how that would go," he said, noting Haymond's popularity in the district.
Todd Taylor, state Democratic Party chairman, said earlier that he has a good feeling about Bird's chances.
Judging from what he sees as a lack of support from the state party, Bird said he wonders why.
"They haven't done much to help me," he said, adding the party seems to view everything outside Salt Lake County as a "vast wasteland."
Bird believes he was a victim of the George Bush coattail effect when he lost to Haymond in 1988 and that Springville voters are willing to give him another shot. Democrats, he said, have a better opportunity to win in southern Utah County in nonpresidential election years.
"In light of my opponent's position, I am perceived as the more moderate choice," he said.
Throckmorton, a political editor and part owner of a new monthly newspaper called The Family Forum, said he's not the right-wing radical that people make him out to be. He describes his newspaper as "conservative, mainstream Republican," which is what Throckmorton considers himself.
"More and more it's in the past," he said of his last-minute foray into politics as an Independent American two years ago. "I was kind of naive when I jumped in with those people."