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Democratic Senate candidate says Republican doesn't represent Utah

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Sep. 13, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's U.S. Senate race is still focusing on the Constitution, but now one candidate says his opponent is taking things too far.

The candidates are coming back into the news with Democrat Sam Granato saying front-runner Republican Mike Lee doesn't represent mainstream Utah.

"I love the Constitution as much as anyone else," Granato said, but it's a lot of talk about the Constitution that Granato claims is turning off mainstream Utahns most.

In particular, Granato says some of Lee's statements are alienating voters.

"We need to get together, find the common ground and solve our differences," Granato said.

He's ordered "Republicans for Granato" signs to reflect the moderates who are supporting him. That includes Sen. Bob Bennett's son, Jim, who is helping Granato's campaign.

Granato also says the Tea Party movement is running out of gas. But Monday, over the phone from Washington, Lee said the grassroots political phenomenon is strong.

"My campaign is focusing on what it always has from the very day I announced my candidacy, and that the federal government is too big and too expensive," Lee said.

Still, Granato believes Lee is "too extreme, he's very extreme."

Lee disagrees.

"They (Granato's followers) desperately want it to be true because they feel it's their only hope," Lee said. "But it doesn't make it right or make it effective just to say it's their only shot."

As a campaign tactic, political analyst Kirk Jowers agrees.

Granato, the underdog, has to do something, Jowers says. He says Granato is piggybacking on the national Democrats' plan to create attention for candidates.

"He has to try to take numbers off Mike Lee," Jowers said. "This is the formula that's being used across the nation, and so it's a natural place for him to take a shot."

The next question is will it work?

Granato says he's gaining momentum, but Lee is confident enough that he's saying "no" to any debates other than those he's already committed to.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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