Like the Utah Democratic Party from which it springs, Utah's delegation to the Democratic National Convention this year reflects a transition from the old, well-known party workers of the past, to the younger, upcoming generation.
Most of 28 delegates and eight alternates left Sunday morning for the Atlanta convention. Several of their leaders left Saturday to get a day's jump on the event.The delegates are expected to nominate Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis as the party's presidential hopeful and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas as his vice presidential running mate.
The Utah delegates elected Pat Shea, the former chairman of the state party, as their delegation chairman. Former Gov. Scott M. Matheson, while not present at the election meeting held two weeks ago, was also nominated. In picking Shea over Matheson, the delegates were sending a message, Shea said.
"There are some new, younger people in the party who are no longer willing to defer to the established order," he said.
Wishing to bring unity to the delegation, upon his selection Shea immediately suggested that Matheson and former Gov. Cal Rampton, who gives up his national committeeman post this year, be honorary co-chairmen.
Shea headed Dukakis' Utah effort this year. "It was clear to me that the Dukakis camp, which worked hard this year, wants to take the opportunity of moving forward this year (in the party). They're not satisfied with the monopolization by the established order of the past."
But there's no split in the delegation, either among the older and younger delegates, nor between the 25 Dukakis delegates and three Jesse Jackson delegates, Shea stressed.
"I see a smooth, effective transition from one generation of loyal party leaders to the next generation," Shea said. "Hey, there are so few Democrats in Utah we can't exclude anyone, any age. We reach out to everyone and ask them to join us."
According to Shea, only eight of the 28 delegates and eight alternates, have gone to Democratic national conventions before: Shea; Matheson; Rampton; Rep. Beverly White, D-Tooele; Sen. Rex Black, D-Salt Lake; and Salt Lake County Treasurer Art Monson.
"Gov. Rampton and Rep. White have been to a number of them, although I'm sure the governor holds the record for the most attended," Shea said.
Rampton is the oldest member of the delegation; Jill Remington, a Dukakis worker and a Salt Lake City employee, is the youngest.
The small Jackson contingent is headed by Marvin Davis, head of the Jackson effort in Utah. Davis promised a lively debate on party platform issues Jackson wants and perhaps a floor fight over Bentsen's vice presidential nomination.
Jackson wanted the vice presidential nomination and said many times, including during his visit to Salt Lake City several weeks ago, that he deserved the second spot.
The state party picks up the tab for party chairman Randy Horiuchi's and vice chairwoman Elizabeth Willey's convention expenses. But all the others have to personally foot the bill for the approximately $1,000 it costs for air fare, hotel rooms and food.
Rep. Janet Rose, D-Salt Lake, and four of her delegate colleagues, Pete Suazo, Ella Westley, George Stravros and Connie Meske-Stravros, held fundraisers to help offset their costs.
"I raised about $400," said Rose, "by holding a small party with hor d'oeuvres. I appreciate those who helped me go to the convention. It's something I always wanted to do."
An example of the high prices delegates face is the $139-a-night cost per room at the delegation's assigned hotel, the Embassy Suites-Perimeter _ 20 miles from the Omni convention site. It is about the most distant of any hotel used by a state delegation.
But delegations that were given distant hotels through a lottery for sites are given the best seats at the convention itself _ so Utah's delegation will be on the main floor at the rear of the first bank of chairs in front of the podium.
The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is expecting heavy spending by the 35,000 total visitors expected at the convention, including 15,000 from the media and 5,373 delegates and alternates. The chamber figures they will spend up to $64.4 million at the convention _ or roughly $1,840 per person.