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SALT LAKE CITY -- Republican candidate for Congress Morgan Philpot just picked up his biggest endorsement to date.
Former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has endorsed Philpot in his race against Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson for Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
Palin's endorsement for Philpot is posted on her Facebook page; a written statement comes at the end of a list of her other Republican candidate endorsements.
"Ten years ago, Morgan Philpot brought his message of 'Faith, Family, Future' to the Utah State Legislature," Palin wrote. "Since then, Morgan has been a reliable, conservative leader for Utah. Now he's running to represent Utah's 2nd Congressional District. We can count on Morgan to make the right choices to bring our country back."
Philpot's own website and news releases have been spreading the word. A spokesman for his campaign says the endorsement generated a huge spike of hits on the site.
Philpot admits his campaign could use some momentum from someone like Palin.
The people who are supporting Palin are already for Philpot, and they'll probably go out and vote. ...the problem is that Matheson is very well-known in our state, and most moderates, even Republicans, like him.
–Kirk Jowers, Hinckley Institute of Politics
"It really came out of the blue, but it's a good sign that people are paying attention on a national level to this race. They understand it's importance," Philpot says.
Matheson has plenty of endorsements too. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association, and several unions also contribute heavily to Matheson's campaign.
"I'm proud of those endorsements that come from organizations that really get to know the candidates and make an informed decision," Matheson says.
The question is how valuable are these endorsements?
Kirk Jowers, executive director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, says in the end, people vote for the candidates themselves. At the same time, he calls Matheson's endorsements a sort of "good housekeeping seal of approval." Palin's endorsement, he says, won't mean much.
"The people who are supporting Palin are already for Philpot, and they'll probably go out and vote. They're energized. It will raise some money," Jowers says. "But the problem is that Matheson is very well-known in our state, and most moderates, even Republicans, like him."
Still, it is all about momentum in a campaign. For Philpot, Palin is a significant boost as far as attracting attention to himself in the final weeks before Election Day.