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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Sen. Bob Bennett filed for re-election Tuesday, saying he wants to spend a third term representing Utah and working to simplify the nation's tax code.
"I'm in a position to be effective for another six years and I'm going to ask the voters to give me that opportunity," said Bennett, a Republican who just turned 70, never takes elevators if there's a stairway to climb and can fit his 6-foot-6-inch frame inside a Honda Insight hybrid, which he drives around the nation's Capitol.
Bennett paid a $1,160 candidate filing fee Tuesday at the Utah Capitol -- the state's highest candidate fee, based on one-eighth of 1 percent of a senator's salary over six years.
Senators are making $157,020 this year.
Bennett likely will face Democrat Paul Van Dam, who launched a campaign last September for a Senate position no Democrat has won in Utah since 1970.
But Van Dam, Utah's attorney general from 1989 to 1993, is one of only four Democrats who won a statewide office in the past 30 years, and Bennett says he'll take the challenge more seriously than his 2-1 romp six years ago over Democrat Scott Leckman.
"We're not taking it lightly," Bennett said.
Van Dam didn't return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press.
On the steps of the Capitol Tim Bridgewater, one of three Republicans hoping to get the GOP nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, greeted Bennett by saying, "Senator, good luck. I suppose your race will be easier than mine."
Bennett pledged to serve no more than two terms when he first ran for Senate, but changed his mind, saying that in Congress "seniority rules." He serves as chief deputy whip for Senate Republicans, a position that allows him to sit in on meetings with President Bush every four to six weeks.
Bennett says Washington has two kinds of senators, work horses and show horses and "I decided to be a work horse."
Show horses often aspire to higher office, said Bennett. His Utah colleague in the Senate, Orrin Hatch, was an also-ran for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination.
"We have not elected a bald president since Eisenhower, and he wore a hat," said Bennett, referring to his own cranium.
Asked to list a priority he hasn't achieved yet in Washington, Bennett said he was getting ready to hold hearings on overhauling the tax code to "make it so simple you can file your return on a 10-40" form.
Bennett said changing the tax code will require "a lot of heavy lifting" because many special interests don't want to lose their tax advantages gained over the years.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)