Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The election isn't over yet, at least not for the growing list of prominent Democrats running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Salt Lake County Mayor-elect Ben McAdams.
Utah State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis and outgoing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon are running, along with former Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson and Rep. Brian Doughty, D-Salt Lake, who lost his re-election bid.
Other contenders for the remaining two years of McAdams' term include former Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chairman Weston Clarke, attorney Will Carlson, and teacher Robert Comstock, who ran last year for the state party chairmanship.
"It's definitely shaping up to be an all-star cast for Democrats," Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Jaramillo said.
The selection will be made by some 150 Democratic delegates in Senate District 2. The new boundaries of the district, set after the 2010 Census, includes the Avenues, Central City and other Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake neighborhoods.
Jaramillo said county party officials will meet Tuesday to set the election date, expected to be sometime in December, as well as the filing deadline for candidates and specific rules for the election.
He said he's hoping the candidates for the seat keep in mind that Democrats won the county mayor's race by working together. "Unfortunately there can be a tendency for an intraparty fight to get vicious," Jaramillo said.
Dabakis said he expects even more Democrats to jump into the race. "I wish there was the same energy and excitement in every district across the state for Democrats," he said.
If he wins, Dabakis said he will stay on as state party chairman and use his higher profile as a member of the Legislature to help Utahns see how the majority Republican Party differs on issues.
He said serving both as leader of his party and a state lawmaker is no different than other members of the part-time Legislature holding jobs off Capitol Hill. "It just happens my day job is Democratic Party chair," Dabakis said.
Corroon, who did not run again for county mayor, said he wasn't ready to leave public service. He waged a tough campaign for governor in a special election two years ago, but lost to GOP Gov. Gary Herbert.
"I love public service. I want to stay in," Corroon said. He, too, expects plenty of competition. "It is a strong Democrat seat so there will be many people running in the race, so there's never a guarantee."
He also anticipates questions from the delegates about the 17.5 percent property tax increase in his proposed 2013 budget, unveiled Thursday.
"I don't think a tax increase ever helps you in any kind of election, but at the end of the day I'm going to do what I think is right regardless of the politics around it," Corroon said. "I think it was necessary to have a tax increase."
Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics and a Republican, said the Democratic delegates voting in the race may not care about the tax increase.
"It would be suicide potentially to do it if you had to worry about a primary and then a general election," Jowers said. "These are kind of the true believer Democrats, so it probably won't hurt him. It may even help him."
Jowers said the attention the race will generate will also help the Democrat Party. "To allow the public, the media, to focus on some real superstars, Democratic superstars, going for this seat is very good for them."
McAdams won a hard-fought race against Republican Mark Crockett, a former Salt Lake County councilman. He was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to fill an earlier vacancy and was elected to a four-year term in 2010.
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