Candidates speak to delegates on eve of county convention


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SANDY -- Candidates for U.S. Senate are taking advantage of every forum they can to woo state Republican delegates these days. Friday night they did that at the party's Salt Lake County Convention kickoff.

Candidates literally lined up against the man at the end of the table: Sen. Bob Bennett. It was just one of several opportunities for voters to see, in person, what makes each of the candidates tick.

It was quick, but enough to get a taste of where they stand -- for example, on the federal income tax.

"Our founders never wanted a direct tax, such as an income tax," said Cherilyn Eager, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

"I'm in favor of abolishing the 16th Amendment on the income tax. All in favor, say aye!" said Tim Bridgwater, also a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

A third Republican candidate, Mike Lee, said, "We've got to scrap the current system and replace it with a single-rate system."

"It should be efficient, it should be simple, it should be competitive in a world market, and it should be permanent so people can plan on it," Bennett said.

"As far as the income tax system right now, it definitely has to go," said Leonard Fabiano, also a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

A fifth Republican candidate, Jeremy Friedbaum, said, "I'm also in favor of abolishing the income tax."

There wasn't a chance for the opponents to take each other on or respond, but there were sparks that flew over topics like President Obama's health care plan. Most also have ideas on how to streamline government.

Delegates are taking the upcoming convention vote seriously. They're seeking out answers that go deep, they're asking questions and listening.

"A lot of these guys, in concept, are very close. But we're actually looking for specifics: What will they do on each one of these issues?" said state GOP delegate Ted Heap.

Some candidates even said they feel it might be time for somebody new.

"I would say we'll elect someone who's young, energetic, fresh, who's not contaminated by the power and by the influence of Washington; someone who has the best interest at heart of Utah and its residents, and someone who is aggressive and not afraid of asking questions," said state delegate Jose Reyna.

At candidate forums like this one, delegates are still clearly looking for answers; and time is running out for the candidates to convince them that their answer works for them.

Delegates will narrow the choice of those Senate candidates at the state-wide convention May 8.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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