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
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
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