After ending Sen. Bob Bennett's bid for a fourth term, Utah's two remaining GOP Senate candidates are struggling to differentiate themselves.
Businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee vaulted from political obscurity by running to Bennett's right at the GOP state convention May 8. Their strategy — hammering Bennett for excessive spending in Washington — worked among the 3,500 die-hard conservative delegates.
But Bennett's upset loss created an unusual problem for the political upstarts in Tuesday's primary: how to stand apart from one another.
Both are newcomers with nearly identical platforms. Each wants to reduce federal spending, overhaul the process of awarding home-district pet projects, repeal the new health care law, replace income taxes with a national sales tax, wean the country off Social Security and eliminate perceived incentives for immigrants to enter the United States illegally.
Since they largely agree on the issues, Bridgewater and Lee have spent most of the past six weeks attacking each other's professional backgrounds.
"Today there are 58 lawyers in the Senate. There are not enough small businessmen," said Bridgewater, 49, the founder of a consulting firm specializing in emerging markets.
Lee, 38, is quick to point out that as a partner in a law firm, he also is a businessman. The difference, he says, is that his business specializes in keeping government off the back of his clients while Bridgewater's clients have depended on government for financial aid.
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