State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi, a longtime lobbyist, can't be accused of following the Utah Education Association's example of maintaining a low profile on Capitol Hill this year.
The ever-modest Horiuchi says his opposition to the "Utah Truth in Advertising Act" on behalf of Smith's Food & Drug is just business as usual. But that's not how the legislation's sponsor sees it.That's probably because the sponsor is the top-ranking House Democrat, Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price. Dmitrich says Horiuchi is embarrassing the Democrats by fighting his (Dmitrich's) effort to help American Stores Co.
Dmitrich's bill, which is aimed at curbing claims by Smith's Food & Drug that audits prove the supermarket chain is the "certified low price leader," has attracted a number of lobbyists on both sides of the issue.
Among them are some of the state's most influential lobbyists, including a former state Democratic Party chairman, John Klas, who is lobbying for Dmitrich's bill.
None of the advocates for Smith's or Skaggs Alpha Beta supermarkets seem to have frustrated Dmitrich as much as Horiuchi. For example, Horiuchi tried to round up Democratic support for a bill that would counter Dmitrich's.
"Why should he embarrass the Democrats?" Dmitrich fumed. Asked if he and the state's top Democratic party official would settle their differences, the minority leader answered, "I don't need him."
Horiuchi takes the criticism in stride. "I've got to make a living." He does not believe his work as a lobbyist affects his non-paying position as state party chairman.