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XMission boss starts bid to unseat Hatch
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune

The ballot box won't open for another 20 months, but Democrat Pete Ashdown says the race to unseat longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch starts now.
   "I am continually dismayed at the direction the country is headed and I find myself in a position to do something about it," said Ashdown, a political novice who is the president of XMission, Utah's longest existing Internet service provider.
   He wanted to start campaigning early to find "common ground" with Utah's rural populations.
   Ashdown's candidacy was first reported on http://www.newwest.net Thursday, indicative of his tight connections with Utah technology and new media. He 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 strived 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 LDS faith, 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 3rd Congressional District Rep. Bill Orton also may enter the race - if he can get his ailing back healed in time.
   "I have not said 'no,' but what I have said is it depends on my back," he said.
    mcanham@sltrib.com
     
   
     

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Copyright 2005, The Salt Lake Tribune.
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