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For week ended August 01, 1999 Posted 7 Aug 1999

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Could Mormon turnout give Hatch a boost in Iowa?

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Could Mormon turnout give Hatch a boost in Iowa?
Casper WY Tribune (AP) 29Jul99 L1
Could Mormon turnout give Hatch a boost in Iowa?

SALT LAKE CITY -- Does Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a member of the LDS Church, have an advantage that other presidential candidates don't have? LDS Church records indicate that there are about 16,000 members of the Church in Iowa. If just a small percentage of these members vote for Hatch in the August 14th straw poll, Hatch could end up as one of the leading contenders among the 11 GOP candidates.

''They (LDS Church members) are a natural constituency, and we're certainly not going to ignore them,'' said Hatch on Tuesday. Hatch expects to do well in the coming vote. ''I think we'll surprise some people (in Iowa). Expectations for me are nil - all I have to do is show'' says Hatch.

But Hatch has been told by other republicans, including 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, not to go to Iowa. ''Dole said, 'You won't get a vote.' But I just thought we had to be there,'' said Hatch after returning from a recent campaign swing through Iowa.

Out of a statewide population of 2.8 million, only 10,000 to 12,000 people are expected to vote in the coming straw poll, which is actually a fundraising event for the Iowa State Republican Party. To vote, participants must purchase a $25 ticket, which limits the turnout significantly. If just 1,200 members of the LDS Church vote in Iowa, Hatch would get 10% of the vote and be considered a significant contender.

This past Sunday, Hatch attended a reception at the home of Iowan Doug Anderson, who Hatch calls a "leader" in the local LDS community. 200 people attended, four times what Hatch expected.

But Hatch is facing financial limitations, unlike frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who could spend as much as $4 million. ''I don't have the money. We'll be concentrating on grass roots - receptions and picnics,'' said Hatch. He will be in Iowa again next weekend and plans frequent additional stops after Congress ajourns.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information