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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 09, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Jul00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Upstart Smith Suddenly the Darling of National GOP Leaders
Salt Lake Tribune 6Jul00 D2
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In what is expected to be the first in a tag-team effort by Republican congressional leaders to back a political newcomer, U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey declared the Republican Party's undying support for Derek Smith in Utah's 2nd Congressional District election.

Prior to Smith's convincing defeat of Cook in the recent Republican primary, Armey said. Cook "is the one guy that they [Democrats] most want to avoid in the general election." "He beats Democrats." But now Armey is a Smith man. Smith, a political newcomer, will face Democrat Jim Matheson in the November election. The stampede to stand behind Smith is important to Republicans.

"It's glorious," said Smith spokeswoman Laurie Maddox. "It's wonderful. We've been alone in this, and now that Derek's the nominee it's extremely gratifying to have this support," Maddox added. Wasting no time in joining Armey, National Republican Committee Chairman, Tom Davis, vowed support for the challenger. Davis called Cook a "fine representative" who would be missed. "I wish him all the best, and I am confident he will join us in supporting Derek Smith this fall."

Yet, that support doesn't appear likely. Cook has declilned to talk to Smith since the election. He claims that he is owed an apology for being called a "liar" and "slime" by candidate Smith's camp. He has even suggested running in a write-in campaign.

Maddox, has made it clear there will not be an apology. All members of Utah's all-Republican delegation will attend Smith's rally or send a representative. There will be one notable absence. "The whole delegation will be there except for you-know-who," Maddox said. Even Gov. Mike Leavitt is expected to be in attendance.

Money will be an important aspect of the show of GOP unity behind Smith. "We expect a whole different ballgame in the fund raising now that Smith is the nominee," Maddox said. "This is still one of the top targets, if not the top one in national congressional elections," she said. "It's basically an open seat now."


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