Private university professor Bennion Spencer will run in the 3rd Congressional District this year as a Democrat.

Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, said Monday that Spencer is running at the request and with the support of the Democratic Party.

Spencer has run twice before for the state Senate, losing races in 2000 and 2002 from his Riverton area.

It is unclear who the Republican will be in the 3rd District race. Six-term Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, is once again being challenged for his party's nomination. Other Republicans in the race include Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s former chief of staff, Jason Chaffetz, and former Juab County Attorney David Leavitt, younger brother of former Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Born and raised in Layton, but a longtime resident of Riverton, Spencer said it was a tough decision for him to run for Congress this year.

"But I have a passion for the issues," he said.

Spencer said he strongly believes that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be the next president, and it will be more important than ever to have Democrats in Congress to work with the new president.

Spencer has worked for years in the television industry, but now, at 55, is an adjunct professor at Neumont University, a private school whose students are older workers seeking retraining in computers, high technology and other areas. Spencer teaches humanities and international relations classes, where he says he has become expert in many of the problems facing America today — and which have been "poorly" served by President Bush and the former GOP-controlled Congress.

Bush and the former GOP Congress "failed us horribly," Spencer said. However, his race will not be about the "ridiculous" mistakes of the past, but where the nation goes now.

"I will be speaking not about Rep. Cannon — who knows if he will even make it out of the (GOP) convention or primary? I'll be speaking about what Democrats can do."

When gasoline hits $5 a gallon later this summer and the U.S. economy goes in the tank, 3rd District voters will be so angry and upset that they will listen to all candidates, Spencer said. And his expertise in the global economy and international relations will come in handy as the campaign moves forward.

"We need to stop and look at the big picture," he said. "We need to have someone who is willing to stand up, take the political risks, take on the issues. And I'm willing to do that."

E-mail: [email protected]