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Richard Piatt reporting The race for Salt Lake City mayor may get another candidate. One with a familiar name.
Ex- Utah Congressman Merrill Cook is expressing interest in running against Rocky Anderson this year.
Merrill Cook/Possible Candidate for SLC Mayor: "WE'RE LOOKING TO DECIDE WHETHER I SHOULD RUN FOR THE MAYOR OF SALT LAKE CITY, OR TRY TO REGAIN MY CONGRESSIONAL SEAT."
A leaner, relaxed Merrill Cook says he's hungry for politics again. And not because of his successful diet.
Merrill Cook/Possible Candidate for SLC Mayor: "THAT'S FREEDOM OF SPEECH, THAT'S THE CONSTITUTION."
Recently, talk radio has given Cook the platform he lost in the 2000 primary election.
His failed try at a third term in Congress was a hard loss. He had run for various offices unsuccessfully years before winning Congress in 1996. That night, he vowed to win again.
June 2000: Merrill Cook/Defeated In Primary: "WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S A BUMP IN THE ROAD, RICH. AND WE HAVE NO DOUBT THAT IN SPITE OF THIS BUMP WE;LL BE BACK. SO WE TAKE IT IN STRIDE."
His return could come this year. Already, Cook says he's doing research to see if there is money and support for a mayoral campaign.
Cook claims experience in Washington could pay off for Salt Lake City when it comes to getting business downtown, upgrading transportation, and saving the city's watershed.
Merrill Cook/Possible Candidate for SLC Mayor: "THE FACT, RICHARD, THAT THESE ISSUES HAVE LANGUISHED IS WHY I'M INTERESTED IN THE MAYOR'S RACE. "
Cook acknowledges past outbursts and judgement calls that hurt his image.
Merrill Cook/Possible Candidate for SLC Mayor: "I FEEL THE PUBLIC HAD A VERY DISTORTED VIEW. I CERTAINLY MADE MY SHARE OF ERRORS, FOOT IN MOUTH AND THAT SORT OF THING. "
But, as in the past, Merrill Cook is shaking off the past and going for what he wants--or at least looking into it.
Merrill Cook/Possible Candidate for SLC Mayor: "I'M A PERSISTENT INDIVIDUAL. AND I THINK THE BEST MAYORS AND CONGRESSMAN ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSISTENT. AND WHO DON'T SEE THE LOSS OF A BATTLE AS A TOTAL LOSS BUT A STEP ALONG THE ROAD. "
When Merrill Cook ran against Rocky Anderson for congress five years ago, it was a bitter, hard-fought campaign. It could be that way again, something the other candidates say they welcome, too.