Former Jesse Jackson delegate Marvin Davis said Friday he is the only candidate for the chairmanship of the state Democratic Party not beholden to labor or "wine and caviar" interests.
"We've got to take the Democratic Party and give it back to the grass-roots people of this state," Davis said during a press conference at the Capitol called to announce his candidacy.He said neither of the two announced candidates for the position, Salt Lake attorney Peter Billings Jr. nor Rep. Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan, can speak for the majority of Utah Democrats.
Billings is endorsed by such prominent Utah Democrats as former Gov. Scott Matheson and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah. Atkinson is executive director of the Utah School Employees Associations, which represents 4,500 non-teachers.
Davis noted that his candidacy, which was actually announced several months ago, has not been given much attention in the media compared to that given Billings and Atkinson.
"I think the question is, I'm black, not Mormon and I'm running in the state of Utah. Well, I'm a Democrat and that's what this party is made of," he said, adding he did not expect to be judged on the basis on his race.
Davis said he defied the odds once already by winning a place in the Utah delegation to the party's national convention in 1988 as a delegate for presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Already this year, he said, some 260 delegates to the party's state convention in June have pledged their votes to him. He said he believes many of 2,700 delegates are uncommitted.
The current head of the party, Randy Horiuchi, has yet to say whether he will seek a third term. Horiuchi has been criticized by Matheson and other Democrats for trying to form an alliance with leaders of the tax-limitation movement.
Davis, too, said Horiuchi was wrong to seek the help of failed independent candidate for governor Merrill Cook and said that the party should pursue issues such as removing the sales tax from food on its own.
Davis is an area manager for Titus Foods and said he is negotiating to by buy an Ogden-based chemical company with a partner. He ran unsuccessfully for the Salt Lake City Council.