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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Pete Ashdown, president of Internet service provider Xmission, has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch in the 2006 general election.
"I am continually dismayed at the direction the country is headed and I find myself in a position to do something about it," Ashdown said Thursday.
Ashdown said technology issues are underrepresented in Congress, which is one of his primary motivations for seeking public office.
"Through my own business, I have consistently (striven) to protect my customers' privacy," he said. "I wish that was the norm, but it is an aberration when it comes to business."
Ashdown also is turned off by "the continued theocracy of the country."
"I believe religion has a place in individual lives but not in running the government," he said. Ashdown was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but does not consider himself "an active Mormon."
He has not selected a campaign manager or officially filed for the race.
Hatch's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said he did not know Ashdown.
"To be quite honest, the senator is not running against anybody. He is going to be running for re-election," Hansen said.
State Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn said Ashdown "can be a fresh voice to politics. He can certainly give Orrin Hatch a run for his money."
Dunn criticized Hatch for staying in office so long. Hatch was first elected in 1976.
"Maybe Senator Hatch should become a full-time songwriter and spend time with his grandkids," he said. "I think people like Senator Hatch but are ready for him to move on."
Former Democratic Rep. Bill Orton also may enter the race, if his ailing back heals.
"I have not said 'no,' but what I have said is it depends on my back," he said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)