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Utah remains one of the worst states in the nation in percentage of eligible voters who go to the polls, thanks largely to the cumbersome caucus-convention system so jealously guarded by a core political base. But at least voter registration is up.

Comical commercials featuring Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox helped prompt 40,000 Utahns to register, and 400,000 logged on to before last year's election.

Last week, the creator and producer of those ads, Salt Lake City-based Love Communications, received national recognition from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) at its Pollie Awards ceremony in New Orleans.

Love entered the "Vote" campaign in seven categories and walked away with five gold Pollies. This year's contest was the largest in AAPC history with more than 2,400 entries.

The awards, dubbed by Esquire magazine as the "Oscars of political advertising," are bipartisan honors given annually to members of the political advertising and communications industry who have produced work on behalf of candidates or causes.

The prizes given to Love Communications included overall TV campaign in the state/local public affairs category, best use of humor, and best nonbroadcast video — a longer format piece called "LG: Who Am I."

The pieces featured Cox strolling around Salt Lake City asking folks if they could name the lieutenant governor. Several of the questions were posed during Comic Con to space cadets, superheroes and a bearded princess, and at the Utah State Fair, where Cox interviewed, among other characters, a goat.

The TV spots and related videos encouraged Utahns to visit the website to learn more about early voting, review a personalized sample ballot and find polling locations.

Hatch and his groupies • Several readers have contacted me curious about Sen. Orrin Hatch, whom they have seen surrounded by a flock of serious-looking men wearing sunglasses and devices in their ears.

Don't worry. They are not dietary-supplement lobbyists or gospel-music recording artists.

They are Secret Service agents — five at all times — assigned to protect Hatch because the Utah Republican has become an very important hombre.

Hatch got this new protection from the federal government because his 38 years in office make him the longest-tenured senator of the majority party.

As such, he is the Senate president pro tempore and third in line for the presidency, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.


A day of mixed blessings • The good news for Sue Gordon when her car was rammed by a hit-and-run driver in a red hatchback in the parking lot of Harmons Emigration Market on March 19 was that a civic-minded woman named Whitney noticed the crash and wrote down the license plate number.

When Gordon exited the store and saw the damage to her car, Whitney was there with the pertinent information so Gordon could track down the culprit.

The bad news was that the license plate on the red hatchback had been stolen from a Pathfinder SUV.

Gordon's advice: Watch out for red hatchbacks.

Fair is fair • While the debate continues over the color of Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's campaign T-shirts worn in the St. Patrick's Day parade — the divisive color of orange or yellow, as the campaign insists — I should note that Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, while donning a green outfit for the parade, used an orange bus as his parade vehicle.