Utah Democrats got into the swing of their national convention quickly Monday - so quickly that few had time to read their platform, which was debated Tuesday evening.
Convention leaders for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis met with their counterparts in the Jesse Jackson camp and solved all but three disputes in the platform. Those disputes were debated on the floor Tuesday and voted up or down. They are a tax increase for the wealthy, a ban on the first use of nuclear weapons and Jackson's Palestinian self-determination proposal.Dukakis aides called in a variety of their delegates to tell of Dukakis' stands.
Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis was one of those visiting with the Dukakis people.
"We really don't want a plank that calls for tax increases for anyone," DePaulis said. Of note, the platform as drafted does not even use the word "tax" anywhere.
Also, DePaulis added, "We don't want Jackson's prohibition on nuclear first strike, and we don't want a freeze on defense spending."
A compromise apparently has been reached on the defense plank, although a Tuesday morning delegate caucus showed some strong disagreement. During the caucus, Jackson delegate Jamie Stewart of St. George, a co-sponsor of the no nuclear first strike plank, urged her colleagues to "vote for Utah on this one."
Stewart said the no first strike clause would eliminate the need for offensive nuclear weapons and that in turn would lead to stopping nuclear testing in Nevada.
Wearing her "down-winder" T-shirt and no-nukes button, Stewart asked the delegation to vote their conscience.
Jackson made it clear, in a conciliatory meeting Monday with Dukakis and his vice presidential pick, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, that he didn't want a job in the Dukakis administration and won't fight Bentsen's nomination Thursday night.
But he said platform issues are still unresolved. Jackson wants 13 items added to the platform.
Jackson will address the delegates Tuesday night after the platform has been adopted, the tentative schedule shows.
But the platform was far from the minds of most delegates Monday. After a morning caucus, some of the delegates attended a huge labor caucus to hear AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland outline what labor expects from the Democrats. Others attended a prayer breakfast hosted by Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
While some lounged or shopped, Utah State Democratic Chairman Randy Horiuchi, also a delegate, didn't let the festive atmosphere deter him. Horiuchi attended a meeting with the leader of the Project 500 Club, a fund-raising arm of the Democratic National Committee that gives money to local legislative Democratic races.
"I put the hit on him," Horiuchi said. "We're going to get as much as possible for our Utah House and Senate races. We're now negotiating just how much that will be. I hope for $10,000 or more and that will make a difference in a dozen races we target."
Horiuchi's goal is to win 11 more seats in the House and take control of the body for the first time in a dozen years.
Horiuchi will need all money he can get, considering that Democrats are still a minority in Utah. He'll get some aid, though, through what has before been a pain in the side of Utah Democratic candidates - the national party platform.
That platform, in years past, called for all kinds of action for special interest groups and liberal ideals, some - like abortion on demand, gay rights or cuts in defense spending - put local Democratic candidates in a difficult position, defending stands they didn't necessarily believe in.
Those "hot-button" moral stands aren't emphasized in the platform this year as in years past - but are still there.
The platform speaks of them and other ideals in broad, philosophical terms, much to the delight of most Utah delegates.
"The (national) platform won't be a hindrance to us at all," said Pat Shea, delegation chairman and former state party chairman.
Still, in three short sentences, the platform alludes to gay rights when it says discrimination should not be based on "sexual orientation," it calls for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and for "the fundamental right of reproductive choice, regardless of the ability to pay."
While Shea predicts such planks won't hinder Democrats in Utah, talk about them by other national Democrats and Utah Republicans likely won't help local Democratic candidates.
For example, National Abortion Rights Action League director Kate Michelman said, "When the authors included the guarantee of reproductive choice for all women regardless of economic status, the Democratic Party reaffirmed its strong, clear and explicit support for a woman's fundamental right to choose."