11 Republicans seek District 2 congressional seat

Thursday , April 19, 2012 - 9:54 AM

Jesus Lopez Jr.

SALT LAKE CITY -- An open congressional seat has 11 candidates from across the state hoping to woo delegates to the state Republican Party convention.

All of them hope their experience, either politically or personally, will get them past the party nominating convention Saturday at the South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy.

Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, held the 2nd District seat since 2001, but is running this year in the new 4th Congressional District, leaving an open seat without an incumbent.

Although each district has roughly the same number of people, District 2 has the largest land size, encompassing about half the counties in the state, from the southern half of Davis County to St. George.

Meeting future constituents from across the area is a challenge for the candidates, so Davis County Republican Party Chairwoman Kris Kimball said the delegates work hard to get to know each candidate.

"It's a lot of work for those delegates, those who have stepped up to the plate are going to be busy," Kimball said. "If the general public were trying to find out about 11 people, they couldn't do it."

The delegates are willing to vet the candidates, Kimball said. That is their job, to find the best person to fill the Republican ticket.

"I call it speed dating," Kimball said.

Out of the 11 candidates, two are based in the Top of Utah. Like the other candidates, they work to set themselves apart, sharing why they should be sent to Washington, D.C.

Chris Stewart, from Farmington, sees himself as a political outsider.

"If you think that the problem with Washington, D.C., is that they don't have enough politicians," Stewart said, "than don't vote for me."

He believes his experience as an Air Force pilot and as a businessman would be an asset in the nation's capitol.

"There is no better laboratory for developing leadership than the U.S. military," Stewart said.

To cover the district, he has had volunteers canvassing, including 100 volunteers who hand-delivered his informational material to each delegate.

Chuck Williams is one of the first to get into the race. He is currently a Heber City resident, but is in the process of moving to Bountiful.

"I ran Matheson out of the 2nd District, now I have to stay in it," Williams said.

As a veteran of Vietnam and Iraq, he has spent the past 20 years working in many aspects of Republican politics. Through his military and political involvement, Williams claims experience in national security, energy and public lands rights.

"I bring a lot of hands-on experience that the people of Utah will appreciate," Williams said. "We're in this to win and we think we're the best candidate for the people of Utah."

Williams said he is trying to meet delegates one-on-one.

"We've been in this race since last April, and we've been to a lot of cities in this district," Williams said. "With the shortened period between the caucus and the convention, we really have to hustle."

David Clark, former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, is running on a platform that includes a flat tax, a balanced budget amendment, eliminating President Obama's health reform, smaller government and entitlement reform.

Clark, of St. George, is busy getting to all of the district delegates, attending two to three events every day, Monday through Saturday.

"There is a lot of beauty in this state and we have a chance to see some of it," Clark said.

With his time in the Legislature, Clark said he is the only candidate with practical government experience

"We all talk the talk, but I'm the only one who walks the walk," Clark said. "I'm the only candidate, quite frankly. If you are going to send someone to the majors, I'm hoping they've at least had an at-bat."

Former U.S. Senate candidate and Eagle Forum member, Cherilyn Eagar, of Salt Lake City, believes that promoting conservative values will boost the economy.

"I maintain the fiscal stress that we are facing right now is inextricably connected to the social issues," Eagar said. "I'm running because we need to restore the American dream for our children and our grandchildren."

She said she is the candidate who will represent the interests of the entire district.

"I am saying we need to unify this district, we need to unite it," Eagar said. "We are going to send four strong people to Washington, and this is a very important district."

With several hundred delegates, Davis County will play an important role at the convention.

"There's enough that we're seeing the candidates come up here," Kimball said, "it's worth their time anyway."

Other candidates seeking the party's nomination:

* Jason Buck, Salt Lake City;

* Bob Fuehr, Salt Lake City;

* Milton Hanks, Eureka;

* Edward Mayerhofer, Cedar City;

* Jeramey McElhaney, Moab;

* Howard Wallack, St. George; and

* John Willoughby, Draper.

If no candidate receives 60 percent of the delegates' votes, the top two will move on to a June primary.

For more information on all Republican candidates, visit the website http://utgop.org.

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