Jim Matheson forced into primary election with Claudia Wright for Utah Democrat nomination
She was not the first choice of progressive Democrats who gathered in January to choose a candidate to run against Matheson. But Wright was named to replace that candidate when he dropped out.
Republican Sheryl Allen was cheered Saturday at the convention as the Democrats' lieutenant governor candidate.
"We can do better," Allen shouted from the podium after telling the delegates their feelings toward her are "fully reciprocated along with a bucketful of respect for you and what you do."
The sign waving and applause Allen received were just what the Democrats' candidate for governor, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, was hoping for.
Corroon was touted repeatedly during the convention as the party's best hope in the November election.
He told the enthusiastic delegates it has been almost 30 years "of only one voice coming from our state Capitol. … Our state cannot afford just one voice."
The last time Utahns elected a Democrat governor was in the 1980s when Scott Matheson won a second term.
Corroon said he and Allen were "ready to go" as the delegates sprang to their feet and cheered what is the state's first bipartisan gubernatorial ticket.
Choosing Allen as his running mate last week was an effort by Corroon to focus new attention on his candidacy. The most recent Deseret News/KSL-TV poll showed he trails GOP Gov. Gary Herbert by some 20 points.
Don Miller, a delegate from St. George, said he believes having a Republican on the ticket will help Democrats at the polls in November.
"It's a smart, brave thing to do," Miller said. "It indicates a willingness to take a great step forward, to try something new and different."
Stephanie Pace, a progressive Democrat from Salt Lake City, said she respects Allen and believes others who think like her do, too.
"She speaks the language of progress," Pace said of Allen. "I don't know why she calls herself a Republican."
In other intra-party races, Salt Lake businessman and Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control board chairman Sam Granato will square off with a yet to be determined GOP candidate for Sen. Bob Bennett's former seat in November. Granato took 77.5 percent of the delegate vote over accountant Christopher Stout.
And, the Utah House District 25 seat vacated by retiring Rep. Chris Johnson, D-Salt Lake, will be up for grabs in a primary race between Anthony Kaye and Joel Briscoe. Kaye and Briscoe were the top two vote-getters in a four-candidate field that also included John Netto and Dixon Hindley vying to represent the Salt Lake district that's a long-time Democratic stronghold.
Contributing: Josh Smith
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