Republican Salt Lake County commissioners Tom Shimizu and Bart Barker have increased their leads slightly over their
Democratic challengers, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.Shimizu is being challenged by former Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi. The latest poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates shows Shimizu with 52 percent support, Horiuchi with 29 percent support, 1 percent mentioned someone else and 18 percent were undecided.
In the other four-year race, Barker leads his Democratic opponent, former Utah Energy Office Director Jim Bradley, 41 percent to 30 percent. One percent also told Jones they'd vote for someone else and 28 percent were undecided.
Jones questioned 372 county residents by telephone on Oct. 2, 3 and 4. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percent.
Early polls showed Bradley close to or even ahead of Barker, who successfully pushed aside an interparty challenge from radio station owner Henry Hilton in the Sept. 11 primary.
But Barker, who seeks a fourth term on the commission, has steadily improved in the polls over the summer.
Shimizu has always proved a tough competitor in county races. He left the commission in 1986, running an unsuccessful race against 2nd District U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens. But Shimizu came back to win his two-year seat in 1988.
The Legislature did away with two-year county commission seats in the last session. All seats are now four-year terms. Barker, Shimizu and Commissioner Mike Stewart, all Republicans, have, except for Shimizu's two-year absence, run the county since the early 1980s.
Bradley ran against Stewart in 1988, losing a close race. He decided to run against Barker this year, saying he believed he had a chance to unseat the incumbent.
In a poll taken before the September primary, Barker led Bradley 39-30 percent, so the latest poll has Barker several points higher with Bradley remaining the same.
Shimizu led Horiuchi 48 percent to 34 percent in the September poll, so Shimizu has pulled a little further ahead in the latest survey, Jones found.
"People still haven't focused on the race. There is an anti-incumbent feeling racing through the county, and I feel good about that. We've only just completed our first electronic media debate. We'll have several more, and when people see me next to the commissioner, I feel I'll do just fine," Horiuchi said.
Shimizu said he is "pleased as punch" with the latest poll. "It goes to show, I think, that we're not as bad as my opponent says we are - that people aren't believing what he's saying about me." Shimizu characterized Horiuchi's aggressive campaign as "rather negative, and people aren't accepting it."
Barker said he believes he's come from behind - early polls put Bradley 3 percentage points ahead of him - because people are beginning to focus on the race "and sorting out how they feel about" the commission. "We're moving in the right direction (in the polls), we certainly don't want to peak too soon and I don't think we will."
Horiuchi and Bradley have been especially critical about how the commission has run the Salt Palace and other county agencies. "My slogan is that I put people before politics. I do, and I think citizens are beginning to see that," Barker said.
Bradley said the fact he's been ahead and behind in the polls tells him "this is a very volatile race. I feel very, very good about what's happening. I'm on track on the campaign and know where I'm going."
Bradley said the Democratic Party is tracking several days a week - calling people and polling their political favorites - "and I'm dead even with Bart, I know it."
If the election for Salt Lake County Commission were held today and the candidates were Tom Shimizu, Republican, and Randy Horiuchi, Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Definitely Shimizu 33%
Probably Shimizu 19%
Probably Horiuchi 10%
Definitely Horiuchi 19%
Don't know 18%
If the election were held today for Salt Lake County Commission and the candidates were Bart Barker, Republican, and Jim Bradley, Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Definitely Barker 25%
Probably Barker 16%
Probably Bradley 11%
Definitely Bradley 19%
Don't know 28%
Sample size: 372; margin of error plus or minus 5.5%