Democrats Wayne Owens and Gunn McKay got the expected, but still welcomed, endorsement of the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee on Friday, and will soon receive the even-more-welcomed $50,000 the nod brings to each.
Rep. Beryl Anthony, D-Ark., chairman of the committee, flew to Salt Lake City to make the endorsement and hold a press conference.Anthony was full of praise for Owens, with whom he has served for the past two years in the U.S. House, as well as for McKay, who was a 10-year veteran lawmaker when Anthony went to the House 1978.
Owens is seeking his first re-election this year. He served in 1972-74 in the House but tried to jump to the Senate after his first term and lost.
McKay was defeated by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, in 1980. McKay tried a comeback in 1986, but lost by 3 percent to Hansen. He's challenging Hansen again this year.
Utah's other Republican congressman is Rep. Howard Nielson. Anthony said he knows and likes both Hansen and Nielson. "Jim's office is right next to mine. But while I like them both, being effective and aggressive in Congress is another matter," Anthony said.
Hitting on themes that McKay is using against Hansen, Anthony said, "In Washington, D.C., being passive gets you nothing. You have to work hard. You have to be there for critical hearings and votes. Talking about (Hansen's) record is fair game - that is how campaigns are won and lost."
Hansen has criticized McKay for running radio advertisements that slam Hansen for missing a hearing on elderly health care and as a passive congressman who hasn't helped his district enough.
"Gunn has 10 years' experience. He can step in, have the respect of the House majority Democrats and be effective," Anthony said.
He praised Owens as being effective and hard-working from the first day of his term.