Chris Crowder

Thursday's revelation that House Majority Leader Kevin Garn went skinny dipping with a teenage girl 25 years ago surprised many Utahns, including a Layton man who has been planning for months to run against Garn in this year's election.

Chris Crowder has been courting delegates and trying to get his message out in advance of Friday, the first day candidates could file for office.

Crowder held a news conference Friday on the steps of the Davis County Memorial Courthouse to announce his candidacy for House District 16, which represents Layton.

Crowder, a Republican, said he has been frustrated by Garn's lack of communication with constituents, as well as the phone and e-mail responses he hasn't received from Garn.

If elected, Crowder said he would use various social-networking Web sites, including Twitter and Facebook, as well as a blog to keep constituents informed about issues at the Utah Legislature.

Crowder declined to castigate Garn's admitted indiscretion and said Garn's announcement Thursday in the closing hours of the annual legislative session had nothing to do with Crowder's decision to run.

"I know nothing about what happened other than what Mr. Garn has shared," he said. "I do not believe a mistake disqualifies anyone from a position of leadership. We all make mistakes, and I am no different."

Instead, Crowder said, he believes Garn has spent too much time in the Legislature.

"I believe my opponent's status, political power and wealth have left him disconnected and out of touch with the average (resident)," he said.

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Crowder says he believes he has good support from Davis County Republican delegates, who will meet April 10 in convention to select candidates for the November election.

"Delegates have been jumping on and saying they're ready for change," Crowder said.

Garn has yet to file for re-election to the Utah House of Representatives. The deadline is March 19. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Crowder, a former small-business owner, serves as the music pastor and director of facilities for Christian Life Center and Layton Christian Academy.

He said he wants to increase government's transparency, make further ethics reforms and save the state money.

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