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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 29, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 04Oct00

Summarized by Vickie Speek

LDS Democrat Matheson Leading in Race for Cook's Seat

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In Utah's 2nd Congressional District, the unusual has become the usual. In a period of only four election cycles, the seat will have changed hands three times. The ousting of two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Merrill Cook in a June primary is only the latest in a series of shockers.

Cook's defeat by Internet entrepreneur Derek Smith caps even the saga of Republican Enid Greene, who won the 2nd District seat in 1994. Greene was forced into retirement after one term after her then-husband was accused of misusing personal and campaign finances.

Cook, elected in 1996 and again in 1998, was undone by publicity about his temperamental outbursts.

Smith's Primary victory over the controversial Cook has boosted the prospects of an already strong Democratic recruit, Jim Matheson, is the son of the late Scott M. Matheson, a once popular governor (1977-85). Matheson is an energy consultant.

The Republicans' intra-party war has enabled Matheson to raise more than$900,000 over the year for his campaign - none of it from his personal accounts, while Smith funded his primary race with $600,000 of his money, and ended it with only about $12,000 to put into his campaign.

Matheson says he wants to shore up Social Security, pay down the national debt, and look at tax relief for working families. He is also campaigning heavily on lowering the price of prescription drugs, favoring local over federal control of education, and ensuring that economic growth doesn't destroy Utah's wilderness.

Smith, who entered the race just a little more than three months before his stunning primary upset, is trying to make up for lost time. He is using his experience in the high-tech industry to promote technology as a campaign issue. He has also made local education control a major issue, saying he wants to work in Congress to make schools safer and to keep the decisions in the hands of parents, teachers and local school officials.

To complicate the 2nd Congressional race even further, Cook, the ousted incumbent has repeatedly threatened to run as a write-in candidate to draw the support of his hard-core supporters away from the Republican party.

In a recent poll published by the Salt Lake Tribune, Matheson was shown leading by 50 percent to Smith's 23 percent.


Cook's Crumble Puts Utah Seat Up for Grabs
Washington Post (Congressional Quarterly) 25Sep00 T2
By Mary Clare Jalonick: Congressional Quarterly


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