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STATE GOP LEADER NO SURPRISE AS DEMOS VIE FOR PARTY OFFICES

While Democrats may actually have contests next month for state party chairman and other state party offices, Republicans won't.

In keeping with a long-standing policy of the majority party's elected officeholders agreeing on a state chairman, the hand-picked successor to two-term GOP chairman Bruce Hough is Stan Parrish.Parrish has a long history of political service. He was Sen. Orrin Hatch's chief of staff for a while. He left that job to run for the 2nd Congressional District in 1986 and was considered an odds-on front-runner. But he finished third in a close GOP state convention to the late Doug Bischoff and was thus eliminated. Then-Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu beat Bischoff for the GOP nomination in a primary election but finally lost to Democrat Wayne Owens.

Anyway, Parrish found his way into former Gov. Norm Bangerter's administration as economic development executive director.

Parrish is challenged this year for the GOP chairmanship by Greg Nance, who ran and lost a state House race in 1994. But few give Nance much chance to run the state party, which has an annual budget of more than $200,000.

Current party vice chairman Loraine Pace seeks re-election unopposed as does secretary Pam Hendrickson. The only GOP contest is for treasurer, with former Weber County officer Greg Haws running against local banker Neal Wilson.

Tradition has it in Utah politics that the governor in consultation with other officeholders in his party - U.S. senators, House members, etc. - hand-picks the party chairman.

The late Democratic Gov. Scott M. Matheson had a say in Democratic chairmen while he was governor.

GOP Gov. Mike Leavitt hasn't had any run-ins with Hough. Hough just thought four years in a job where everyone is always pulling at you, often complaining about you, was enough.

However, Leavitt has had some disagreements with the Salt Lake County GOP. Historically, county Republican Party leaders have fallen more to the right on the political scale. GOP insiders say the slate of county GOP candidates is more moderate this year than the current leadership. The county convention will be held later this month.

Meanwhile, the Utah Democratic Party - which is in the process of re-evaluating its base and political agenda - does have contested races.

Ed Allen, Gary Pratt, Janet Rose and Mike Zuhl are all running for state chairman. By law, the vice chairman must be of the opposite sex as the chairman, and Fae Beck, Bob Davis, Garth Day, Sue Maxey and Beverly Saathoff are all running for vice chairman. Good luck figuring out what to do if men are elected chairman and vice chairman, or women elected chairman and vice chairman.

Current Democratic Chairman Dave Jones, who is also a state House member, is seriously looking at running against Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini this year. He decided to step down as chairman and also voluntarily stepped out of Democratic House leadership to clear the way for such a run.

For the first time any one can remember, Jones made the Democratic state chairman job a full-time, paid position. He solicited funds directly from various Democratic contributors to pay his salary.

Todd Taylor, state Democratic executive director, says most of the candidates for Jones' office say they'd probably return the chairmanship to a volunteer job, not draw a salary.

Unfortunately, former University of Utah political science professor J.D. Williams has had to resign his national Democratic committeeman post because of poor health. J.D. has suffered several heart attacks over the past two years.

A dozen Democrats want the national committeeman job, including former Salt Lake County Commissioner Jim Bradley, radio talk show host Marvin Davis, former attorney general top deputy John Clark and state senator and AFL-CIO chief Eddie Mayne.

The party offices will be decided in state organizing conventions in May. While both the Republican and Democratic parties have 2,400 state delegates each, few delegates attend the off-election year organizing conventions. Both parties expect maybe 800 to 1,000 delegates to show up and vote for party leaders.