Democrats, flush with Bill Orton's stunning capture of the 3rd District congressional seat, say there's a "real chance for optimism" about the two-party political system in Utah.
For the first time in the state's history, polls show more people voted straight Democrat during the last election than voted straight Republican, according to state Democratic Chairman Peter Billings. And the party hopes to repeat that in the next election by working on political "nuts and bolts" - voter lists and developing a clearly defined platform."I believe the people of Utah are ready for a change," Billings said. "We showed that in 1990."
Billings spoke Saturday at the Utah County Democratic Party Convention in American Fork. He said the party's platform will be built on fairer taxes, improving education and adequate funding for social services.
The convention attracted about 60 delegates, who voted to reinstate county leaders: Chairman Robert W. Stringham; Vice Chairwoman LaVon Laursen; Secretary Vera B. Nielsen; and Treasurer C. Wynn Everett.
"We have hit the turning point in Utah County," Stringham told delegates. "We have a real chance for optimism in being Democrats here."
They also elected area leaders: C. Robert Collins, north county; Merle White, Orem; Tom Bennett, Provo; and Larry Reese, south county.
Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam, keynote speaker, told the delegates that what happened in Utah County shows the two-party system is alive and reasonably healthy.
He said Congressman Bill Orton, D-Utah, exemplifies what it takes to win political office - being qualified, energetic, consistent on issues and running a well-organized and reasonable campaign.
Van Dam encouraged members of the party to provide an alternate voice and alternate solutions for the problems facing Utah.
"I, for one, am proud of who we are and what we are," Van Dam said. "We don't just run roughshod over people. We care. We're Democrats."