Peter Billings Jr., state chairman of the Democratic Party, announced Wednesday that he'll seek another two-year term to the post when Democratic state delegates meet in convention May 18.
It's expected that Billings will be unopposed and that other current state officers - Vice Chairman D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, Treasurer Warren Neusmeyer and Secretary Rhoda Struhs - will be re-elected as well, Democratic officials said. However, it is possible some other candidates could file at the last minute.Billings said his candidacy for the party position does not eliminate him from other political races.
"We expect Peter will also be supported by (organized) labor," said James Roberts, party executive director.
That's a great change from two years ago.
At that time Billings, supported by some "old-line" Democrats like Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and former Gov. Scott M. Matheson, had a real run-in with AFL-CIO state president Ed Mayne and other union leaders, who backed state Rep. Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan, for chairman. Mayne couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday morning on Billings' re-election bid.
Former Democratic Gov. Calvin Rampton said publicly in 1989 that organized labor had too much influence in party politics. Former U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Dan Berman, speaking to the union caucus at the 1989 convention, said he'd never seen such labor-bashing as was taking place in that party election.
Organized labor had made significant contributions to the state party under the two terms of former chairman Randy Horiuchi, who now serves as a Salt Lake County commissioner.
But with Billings election, some believed labor union PAC money would dry up for the state party.
However, that didn't happen, says Billings and Roberts. "At our fund-raising activities we received as much or more support from labor than before," Billings said recently.