And then there were two.

After the "Super Tuesday" primaries, the Democratic ticket has been whittled down to one candidate, pitting John Kerry against George W. Bush in the race for the Oval Office.

And local Democrats say the party will rally around the front-runner.

"The anybody-but-Bush sentiment is out there, so there are going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to strongly support Kerry," said Peter Corroon of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake County Councilman Joe Hatch said he has never seen the Democratic Party rally around one candidate like this with the idea of a November win.

"Super Tuesday was super," said Hatch, who serves as Kerry's official Utah spokesman. "Except maybe Gore in 2000, I don't think anybody has wrapped it up this fast, particularly in this kind of a race."

State Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn said the United States needs a president who is going to focus on the economy and help create more jobs in the country — and Kerry is the right man to do it.

"In Utah it hasn't been such a rosy picture under Bush," Dunn said.

He said more than 19,305 Utahns have been unemployed since Bush took office, and the state has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. Plus, Dunn said, 310,000 Utahns are without health insurance.

"Those are things Utahns and Americans care about," Dunn said. "I think there is a real excitement about Senator Kerry and his electability in November against George Bush."

But can Kerry top the incumbent?

"Absolutely," Hatch said. "It's going to be close, but I definitely think it can happen."

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Corroon agreed. "For as many people who are there that dislike Bush, there are as many Republicans that feel very strongly about Bush. It's going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight."

Although the state is dominantly Republican and pro-Bush, Dunn said the nation is evenly divided on the Bush administration.

"I think there are an awful lot of people — even here in Utah — that believe we need change," Dunn said. "There is a real sense of hope that John Kerry is the guy to lead us to victory in November."


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com

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