Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson is going to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July as a delegate for former presidential hopeful John Edwards.

The irony is Anderson has never supported Edwards, a U.S. senator from North Carolina.

Utah party bosses used "strike-outs" to ensure Anderson, who didn't have to campaign for the Edwards delegate slot as other delegates did, has an at-large delegate slot. And that means some long-standing, rank-and-file Democrats don't get to go.

Anderson said he only asked Democratic Party chairman Donald Dunn if there was a delegate slot for him after several national high-profile Democrats asked the mayor if he was going to Boston.

"Some believe that as mayor of the state's largest city, I should be there. Donald said fill out this form and check the Edwards delegate box. I said, 'I'm not for Edwards, I'm for (John) Kerry,' and Donald said that was fine," Anderson said.

This will be Anderson's first time as a national Democratic delegate. The mayor snubbed the state and national Democratic parties at the 2000 national convention in Los Angeles. Instead, he spoke at the so-called "shadow convention" — run by anti-establishment Democrats. He then left Los Angeles without meeting with the Utah Democratic delegation.

Anderson "has matured, and he wants to be a part of this (Boston) convention, and as the head of the largest city in the state we wanted him to go," says Joe Hatch, a Salt Lake County councilman who, as head of the John Kerry effort in Utah, pulled the very confusing delegate-picking strings to get the mayor a delegate slot.

"Everything we did was totally legal, we didn't change one (delegate selection) rule. In fact, we followed the DNC (Democratic National Committee) rules to ensure we had the required delegate diversity,"Hatch said.

The confusing machinations that got Anderson into this year's convention began in February, when a Democratic straw poll vote in Utah gave Kerry 15 delegate slots, Edwards nine delegates and the others going to party elected bosses.

Hatch agreed with Maura Carabello, the Edwards Utah campaign boss, that he would accommodate the Democratic Party requirements for male/female and minority representation in his delegate pool.

"But in filling female, Native American, Hispanic requirements and so on, I just didn't have a slot for the mayor," Hatch said. "So I went to Maura and asked that she, in her Edwards delegates, take care of Rocky."

Internal Democratic rules allow bosses to "strike out" other candidates in Anderson's case, which allowed the mayor to get an at-large slot, which bumped out some Edwards delegate candidates in last Saturday's state Democratic convention.

"That's true," said Hatch. "I used some of my strike-outs to make sure we got a Native American (in the delegate pool as well). Maura agreed to use her at-large delegate strikes for Rocky."

The mayor said he regrets the fallout from the process. "Only later did I learn that some people were bumped. I didn't mean to bump anyone. I feel bad about that," he said.

"I just want to make it clear that I have no Rocky agenda here," said Carabello. "I just tried to help out the Kerry campaign, who asked (Hatch) that Rocky go to the convention."

While Edwards has only "suspended" his presidential campaign, it is clear to all that Edwards' delegates "are really Kerry delegates" who will vote for the Massachusetts senator in Boston, Carabello said.

Anderson at first endorsed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's presidential bid, then after Dean self-destructed in early primaries, endorsed Kerry. Anderson "has never supported John Edwards," Carabello pointed out.

Anderson, who was the Democratic Party's nominee in 1996 in the 2nd Congressional District, has been somewhat estranged from the inner workings of the Utah Democratic Party for some time. His "shadow convention" speech in 2000 indicated part of the problem local Democratic leaders have had with the often maverick mayor.

"I'm proud I addressed the shadow convention" in Los Angeles, Anderson said Wednesday. "I'd address any shadow convention in Boston, if there is one and they asked me. I think some (national Democratic leaders) are not addressing problems like drug abuse and lack of health care, and as Democrats we should address those issues."

"But Rocky wants to be a part of this convention, wants to participate in the (Utah) party. And we welcome that," said Hatch, who as one of three Democrats on the nine-member County Council dominated by Republicans also has to get along with the mayor, who has taken pride in tweaking some GOP politicians' noses in recent years.


E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com