Voters in Salt Lake County appear to regard Riverton Mayor Dale Gardiner the same as they once did fellow-Democrat Dave Watson in the race for the County Commission's two-year seat.

But Watson's recent guilty pleas to drunken driving and misdemeanor drug charges may be hurting Democrat Jim Bradley, who is challenging Republican Commissioner Mike Stewart in the only other commission race.A Deseret News/KSL-TV poll conducted May 31 and June 1 by Dan Jones & Associates shows 34 percent of the people surveyed support Gardiner while 47 percent would vote for Republican M. Tom Shimizu. Libertarian Gary Root was supported by 3 percent, while 16 percent were undecided.

Shimizu holds the same lead over Gardiner as he did over Watson in a poll conducted April 22 when Watson was the Democratic candidate. Watson dropped out of the race after being arrested May 15.

In the other commission race, for a four-year seat, Stewart had the support of 44 percent of those interviewed, compared to 28 percent for Bradley and 28 percent undecided.

The poll surveyed 250 people and had a potential error of 6 percent.

The survey last April showed 32 percent favored Bradley, compared to 38 percent for Stewart.

Bradley's decline, in a race that has yet to begin publicly, may be attributable to Watson's highly publicized arrest and his refusal to resign from office.

But Bradley, who is uncomfortable with Watson's presence but has not called for him to resign, said he expects to rebound.

"It (the arrest) could've had some effect," Bradley said. "But it will not be a long-term impact by any means. The campaign will focus on Stewart and me."

Bradley said the poll may reflect publicity Stewart has received as a natural result of his day-to-day duties on the commission.

"Since the last poll, most of the work I' ve been doing is preparing for the campaign and getting my positions put together," he said. "I haven't had a public campaign at all."

Bradley said he is encouraged by the high number of undecided voters.

"The race is still totally up for grabs," he said.

Despite being far behind, Gardiner also is encouraged.

"I think it (the poll) means I'm going to win," he said, noting he has yet to begin campaigning. "As a base line, I think it (the poll) is good."

However Shimizu, a former commissioner who left office in 1986 to run unsuccessfully for Congress, also is happy with the results.

If the election for four-year Salt Lake County commissioner were held today and the candidates were Michael Stewart, Republican, and Jim Bradley, Democrat, for whom would you vote?

Stewart 44 percent

Bradley 28 percent

Don't know 28 percent

If the election for two-year Salt Lake County commissioner were held today and the candidates were Tom Shimizu, Republican; Dale Gardiner, Democrat; and Gary Root, Libertarian; for whom would you vote?

Shimizu 47 percent

Gardiner 34 percent

Root 3 percent

Don't know 16 percent

Sample size: 250; margin of error plus or minus 6 percent