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Vowing he won't let Republican Tom Shimizu hide from his record of raising taxes, state Democratic Party chief Randy Horiuchi went on the offensive Thursday for Shimizu's opponent in a Salt Lake County Commission race.

Horiuchi tried to breathe life into the campaign of Democrat Dale Gardiner, who trailed Shimizu by more than 20 percentage points in recent polls, during a press conference in the county commission chambers.While the tax initiatives and statewide races are attracting more attention, a "Return of the Shimizu" to the two-year commission seat would have potentially catastrophic consequences for county residents, Horiuchi charged.

He criticized Shimizu's no-show campaign style, saying Shimizu uses slogans to run for office while hoping no one will scrutinize his record of tax hikes during five years as a county commissioner.

During his successful 1982 commission campaign, Shimizu used the slogan "What is a Shimizu?" In 1984 it was "Return of the Shimizu." This year the slogan is "I'm a member of the Shimizu crew," referring to Shimizu's flat-top haircut. Shimizu ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1986.

Electing Shimizu could mean an all-Republican commission and a return to closed-door government, Horiuchi charged.

"Mr. Shimizu has been noticeably absent (from the campaign), hoping his unique name will propel him to the commission," Horiuchi said. "I contend the Shimizu record offers the voters of Salt Lake County the clearest possible choice - return to the failed policies of the past, or the opportunity to elect Dale Gardiner and continue to keep the doors of county government open."

Gardiner, who sat in the audience as Horiuchi addressed reporters, hopes to debate Shimizu twice a week until the Nov. 8 election. But so far Shimizu has agreed to two joint appearances.

Shimizu raised all service fees in the county public works department in 1986 during his last commission term, Horiuchi said.