Democrats swallowed their embarrassment over Commissioner Dave Watson's arrest last week and turned their wrath toward the Republicans Saturday in their Salt Lake County Convention.

They nominated Riverton City Mayor Dale Gardiner to take Watson's place on the 1988 ballot (see story on A1). They didn't mention Watson by name, although several speakers talked of the challenge and troubles of the past week. Watson himself didn't attend.Watson was arrested last Sunday on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance. On Tuesday he was formally charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Friday, he formally withdrew from his re-election race, but has indicated he wants to finish his County Commission term.

However, several Democratic candidates told the Deseret News during the convention that Watson must also resign his commission seat. They fear his continued presence on the commission will harm their campaigns. Watson has said he will do what the party thinks best.

"He doesn't want to go. But he must," said one Democratic House member. "If he doesn't resign, a number of us will publicly ask him to do so."

The talk of Watson was all behind the scenes.

On the stage of Cottonwood High School's auditorium, Democrats talked of nothing but how their party is making a major comeback this year and how Republican officeholders have performed poorly in federal and state offices.

Referring to the fondness Ronald and Nancy Reagan seem to have for astrology, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi said: "I curse the stars when I see the Iran-Contra scandal. I curse the stars at the budget deficit. Is it the stars, though? No! It is the Republicans."

Said Rep. Wayne Owens: "Nancy doesn't need the stars anymore. The handwriting is on the wall. The Democrats are coming back in 1988!"

"Michael Dukakis is becoming known and George Bush is being found out," Owens told the cheering Democratic delegates. "And talk about being found out. There is Norm Bangerter, who does the right things for the wrong reasons. He raises taxes, then, in an election year, says, `OK, we'll reduce taxes.' "

Former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson, who will challenge Bangerter, said Bangerter's raising of taxes then promising to cut taxes "isn't voodoo economics, it's yo-yo economics."

The Republican slogan for Utah schoolchildren is "stack `em deep and school `em cheap," Wilson said.

Brian Moss, who will likely be the Democrats' nominee against Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Hatch has pursued a right-wing agenda in Washington, D.C. "He has voted against education time and again. His children go to private schools back East. He knows nothing about what is going on back home in Utah. Did you see his personal financial statement this week? He has grabbed every penny he could, $136,000. How can he claim to have compassion for the poor?"

Besides hearing speeches, Democratic delegates voted for County Commission races and Utah House and Senate races whose districts are within the county. A number of Democratic candidates were unopposed. They were unanimously nominated.

In the contested races, as state law requires, any candidate with 70 percent of the delegate vote was automatically nominated. In multicandidate races with no 70 percent majority, the top two now face each other in a Sept. 13 Democratic primary election.

Here are the results of the convention voting:

Four-year Salt Lake County Commission race: Jim Bradley was the only candidate, he was picked as the nominee.

B.T. Price, 55 (7 percent). Gardiner is the nominee.

Two-year Salt Lake County Commission race: Dale Gardiner, 708 (93 percent); Senate District 2: Sen. Rex Black, 49 (64 percent); Robert E. Gallegos, 15 (20 percent); George H. Searle, 12 (16 percent). Black faces Gallegos in a primary election.

Senate District 8. Elgin Hokanson, 36 (57 percent); Al Richardson, 27 (43 percent). The two face each other in a primary.

House District 22. Rep. Ted Lewis, 18 (46 percent); Leif A. Syversen, 11 (28 percent); Douglas Jensen, 10 (26 percent). Lewis faces Syversen in a primary.

House District 28. Robert S. Adams, 27 (63 percent); Lloyd Siegendorf, 16 (37 percent). The two face each other in a primary.

House District 29. Rep. Jay Fawson, 27 (60 percent); Sam Taylor, 12 (40 percent). The two face each other in a primary.

House District 35. Dan Hirst, 17 (63 percent); Ken Zenger, 10 (37 percent). The two face each other in a primary.

House District 36. Max Young, 29 (76 percent); Ken Godfrey, 9 (24 percent). Young is the nominee.

House District 38. Sam Moore, 13 (81 percent); Bob Briggs, 3 (19 percent). Moore is the nominee.

House District 39. Val Lund, 16 (76 percent); Kay Leishman, 5 (24 percent). Lund is the nominee.

House District 41. Ella Westley, 15 (88 percent); Keith Nickle, 2 (12 percent). Westley is the nominee.

House District 45. Wesley Huntsman, 14 (70 percent); Mark Klotovich, 6 (30 percent). Huntsman is the nominee.

House District 46. Paul Hiskey, 24 (96 percent); Walter Holmes, 1 (4 percent). Hiskey is the nominee.

House District 50. Rep. Allan Rushton, 25 (93 percent); Rodney Cox, 2 (7 percent. Rushton is the nominee.

House District 52. Rep. Daniel Tuttle, 31 (84 percent); Jim Brusatto, 5 (14 percent); Steven Hogan, 1 (2 percent). Tuttle is the nominee.