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Salt Lake Tribune: Poll: Bad news for Workman

My pleasure at Nancy Workman's difficulties knows no bounds.

Entire article with photos and graphics quoted below.

Trailing: Corroon, Cook and 'Undecided' all have substantial leads over the embattled county mayor

Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman pumped $125,000 into new campaign commercials. She blanketed the airwaves with ads and interviews. She launched fresh attacks against her chief accuser.

But the money and the message apparently aren't paying off. A new poll commissioned by The Salt Lake Tribune puts Workman at 15 percent, up a mere 3 percentage points from a survey taken soon after the Republican mayor was charged with two felonies alleging misuse of taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, Democratic newcomer Peter Corroon is inching closer to a majority in the three-way race. A month before Election Day, Corroon is at 41 percent, according to The Tribune survey conducted this week by Valley Research.

At 21 percent, independent candidate Merrill Cook, a former Republican congressman, is outpacing Workman but trails Corroon by double digits.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed remain undecided—with the largest chunk claiming allegiance to the GOP or no party.

The poll of 426 registered voters has a 4.9 percent error margin.

Corroon said Thursday he is "grateful to be ahead."

"We know we still have to continue to work hard until the polls are closed," he said. "We have to still convince a lot of undecided voters that we'll bring stability and values to county government."

Workman's campaign manager Chris Bleak said he believes the mayor's support is growing, citing a State Republican Party poll this week that showed Workman at 23 percent.

"We're strongly encouraged by [that] poll and strongly believe we are picking up support," Bleak said.

A Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll soon after Workman was charged pegged her support at 12 percent.

Ultimately, Bleak said, none of these surveys counts for much. "The only poll that matters is Nov. 2," he said.

Workman—who won a first term as the county's first mayor by garnering 52 percent of the vote in 2000—has seen her poll numbers slide since a panel of prosecutors found sufficient evidence to buttress two felony charges against the mayor, who is on paid leave but continues her pursuit of a second term.

Workman faces a preliminary hearing Monday on the charges, which accuse her of illegally funneling Health Department funds to two successive bookkeepers at the South Valley Boys and Girls Clubs, where her daughter is chief financial officer.

Republican and political consultant Bart Barker said the mayor is done politically.

"I don't think there is much chance for her to get her numbers up and even come close to a win," said Barker, a former Salt Lake County commissioner. "Regardless of what happens in the courts, the damage has been done and is permanent."

Workman's electoral viability is sure to be a subject of discussion at Tuesday's county Republican Party Central Committee meeting. While the party can't bump Workman from the ballot, it could withdraw support and back a write-in candidate.

Even so, Workman remains convinced that if she can get her case to trial before the election, a jury would clear her and voters would hand her a second term.

Securing a pre-election trial may prove difficult, and special prosecutor Michael Martinez is prepared to spell out more evidence against the mayor at Monday's preliminary hearing.

Martinez took on the case after Workman accused Democratic District Attorney David Yocom of playing politics with the investigation.

The Tribune's poll shows that Republicans are splitting their votes among the three candidates, with Cook garnering slightly more than his opponents. Corroon has 70 percent of the Democrats' backing and nearly half the independent voters. LDS voters back each candidate about the same.

Cook said a lot of voters are hesitant. "Right now, there's still a lot of question of what could happen to Mayor Workman," he said. "Our momentum will really begin when people understand this race is between myself and Peter Corroon."

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