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Demos aim for upset in St. George district

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Southern Utah is no stronghold for Democrats.

Witness the following: Even though Republican incumbents decided not to seek re-election in House of Representatives districts 74 and 75, no Democrat filed to compete for either open seat.

However, one of the two southern Utah Senate seats up for grabs this November, District 27, is held by a Democrat. While Sen. Mike Dmitrich, a Price Democrat, might not consider himself a southern Utahn, his district does stretch to the southern border of the state.

And the other seat up for grabs, in District 29, could be ripe for a Democratic upset — or so Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, would like to think.

Questionnaires from the Deseret News were mailed to each candidate, and information from those who chose to respond was used in compiling this report. In addition, Taylor and GOP state chairman Rob Bishop handicapped each race, assessing their candidates' chances of victory.

Here is a look at the House and Senate races in southern Utah:

Senate District 27 (Price and southeastern Utah to Washington County): Dmitrich has been in the Legislature 30 years. He should have no problem this time in re-election.

The Republican candidate, Will Marshall of Big Water, is a former Libertarian Party officer who is difficult to locate.

"We tried to contact him earlier this year but couldn't locate him," Bishop said. Marshall's last financial filing shows he's spent $26 — his candidate filing fee — on his campaign.

Senate District 29 (Washington, Iron counties): Rep. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, defeated incumbent Sen. Lorin Jones in the state GOP convention.

A banker and leader in the conservative Cowboy Caucus in the House, Hickman should have no trouble defeating Terry Moore, a Washington County School District fine arts coordinator, Bishop said.

"We need this one. And we could get it," Taylor countered.

The demographics of St. George, even Cedar City, are changing with more students, low-income workers and retired New Deal Democrats moving in.

House District 72 (Iron County): Republican Demar "Bud" Bowman, a retired Utah Highway Patrol trooper, seeks his fifth term. Only Independent American candidate Victor Schafer opposes him. Both live in Cedar City.

House District 73 (Garfield, Kane, Piute, Sevier and Wayne counties): Republican Tom Hatch, a Panguitch cattle rancher and title company owner, is running for a fourth term. He is challenged by Democrat Louise Excell, of Springdale.

House District 74 (Washington County): Republican David Clark, of Santa Clara, is unopposed.

House District 75 (St. George): Republican Stephen Urquhart is unchallenged.

E-MAIL: zman@desnews.com ; bbjr@desnews.com