Utah County Democrats who gathered at a nominating convention Friday insisted that they are far from extinction.
"We do not hold our convention in a phone booth," said Vera Nielsen, vice chairwoman. "We have three rooms full of active Democrats, and we're grateful for it."Actually, 86 delegates turned up for the convention, and they did nearly fill three rooms. Six candidates were nominated for the Utah Legislature, two for Utah County Commission, one for Utah County sheriff and one for Utah County clerk/auditor.
"We have put the right candidates in the right races this year, and don't let anyone tell you differently," said Meg Holbrook, state party chairwoman. "We will never apologize for being Democrats because we're d--- proud of it."
Only one race, Utah House District 56, required a vote of delegates because of multiple Democratic hopefuls. Lehi resident George F. Tripp got more than 60 percent of the delegate vote and therefore beat out Tim Eisen-hart and Susan J. Hunter for the right to face a Republican candidate for the seat being vacated by Rep. Christine Fox-Finlinson, R-Lehi.
Candidates in the other races used the convention as a chance to introduce themselves. Most sounded the theme that even though Democrats are a tiny minority in Utah County, they need to speak up and offer voters a choice.
"We're not the majority party, but we can win," said Spanish Fork resident Joel A. Bradford, who is running for the seat in Utah House District 66. "We're not an organized party, but we will be by November."
Notable participants at the convention included composer Kurt Bestor, whom party leaders tried to persuade to challenge Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, in the 3rd Congressional District race, and former Orem Mayor Stella Welsh.