Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Democrat After Hatch's Seat
Salt Lake Tribune 14Mar00 D2
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Senator Scott Howell, Utah's top Senate
Democrat and a member of the LDS Church, announced on Monday that he
will leave his seat in the Legislature to challenge Republican U.S.
Senator Orrin Hatch. The Democrat from Sandy announced his plans at
a Capitol news conference. Charlie Luke, who will share campaign
manager duties with Ben McAdams said, "He is going to retire from the
state Senate and will be announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Recently, Howell fought an unsuccessful fight in the Legislature to
remove the sales tax from food and increase education funding. His
announcement to not seek re-election comes less than a week after a
similar decision by Republican Senate President Lane Beattie, R-West
Bountiful. Howell has served as minority leader since 1995.
Howell has warned of the "dangers" of a one-party nomination, and
decried the perceived merging of the Republican party and The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As an active Mormon and local
church leader, Howell, in a 1995 response to Republican Gov. Mike
Leavitt's State of the State Address, invoked the names of three
Mormon Church leaders. "There are too many people who think that
being a Republican is a connotation of sainthood," he said.
In mid-February, Atty. Gen. Jan Graham, Utah's only Democrat elected
to statewide office, decided not to challenge Hatch. She claimed her
main reason was to continue her focus on protecting the state's
tobacco settlement money. Utah Democratic Party Leader, Meghan
Holbrook, seemed relieved at Howell's decision to run. "When Scott
runs, he will be the next U.S. Senator from Utah," she said.
Referring to Hatch term in office and his failed bid for President,
Holbrook said, "Twenty-four years is too long."
"I don't think anybody in their right mind could say that [Hatch is
too jaded to continue serving]," said Heather Barney. "It's kind of
a tired message that the last three opponents of Orrin have used."
During his bid for President, Hatch was present for 98 percent of
Senate votes and helped sponsor 41 bills that passed one or both
houses of Congress.
"He has always planned on running a good, vigorous campaign no matter
who his opponent is," she said. "He's proud of his record of
accomplishment for Utah and looks forward to sharing his message with
Utah voters. At the end of 1999, Hatch had nearly $1 million in his
campaign account. Holbrook said a credible challenge could be made
Democrat Jim McConkie, a trial attorney and LDS Church member, has
filed for Howell's State Senate seat. McConkie ran for attorney
general in 1980 and was a chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Gunn