Going to the Davis County GOP convention Saturday?

Then take a cushion, wear comfortable clothes and tell your family not to worry if they don't see you for awhile.It's going to be a long one.

County GOP chairman Mark J. Taylor said convention delegates face an unusually high number of contested races - 12 - and a total of 31 candidates, almost all of whom will want to do some speech making before delegates vote on who they're backing.

As a result, Taylor said, the convention may last about four hours.

Taylor said the high candidate interest is not a sign of increased interest in government or the Republican Party.

"I think it's more of a fluke," he said, referring to the retirement of two longtime office holders at the same time and also the untimely death of a third official.

Clerk-auditor Margene Isom and Assessor Willard Gardner are not seeking re-election. And the sudden death of county recorder Carol Page in 1996 also created a bigger interest in challenging the appointed incumbent recorder James T. Ashauer.

Otherwise, Taylor said the number of contested races for the state Legislature are about average.

On Saturday, delegates can start signing in at noon. The convention at the new Legacy Center, 1100 W. State, begins at 1 p.m.

All contested candidates will be given the opportunity to speak. Some of the candidates in uncontested races may speak as well.

"We're expecting 700 delegates, plus some visitors," Taylor said.

He indicated there could be almost 1,000 people in attendance at the meeting. The Legacy Center, at the Davis County Fairpark, will seat 2,200 for this kind of event.

Taylor said the Davis GOP convention has outgrown local high school auditoriums - where it has been held previously.

State Republican Chairman Rob Bishop is also expected to address the convention, as well as Gov. Mike Leavitt, Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah.

In county races, five people are seeking the Republican nomination for the open county assessor seat being vacated by Gardner: Ross A. Bartholomew of Centerville, Carol C. Buckley of Bountiful, "Curley" John Carey of Bountiful, Helen Duggar of Layton and Raymond G. Thorson of Kaysville.

Two people are vying for the GOP nomination for the open clerk-auditor's post being vacated by Isom: Leonard Langford of Kaysville and Steve Rawlings of North Salt Lake.

County office-holders seeking re-election are facing intraparty challenges:

- Commissioner Carol R. Page of Kaysville is being challenged by Michael J. Cragun of Clearfield for commission seat "B."

- Sheriff Rob Davis of Farmington is being challenged by Bud E. Cox of Layton and A.C. "Andy" Anderson of Farmington.

- Ashauer of Woods Cross is being challenged for the recorder's post by Clark E. Irwin of West Bountiful, Klea Ann Moon of Fruit Heights and Sheryl L. White of Farmington.

Legislative incumbents are also facing intraparty challengers:

- Rep. Nora Stephens of Sunset is facing Paul Ray of Clinton in District 13.

- Rep. Don Bush, Clearfield, is being challenged by Andrew Jeppson of Clearfield for his District 14 seat.

- Rep. Blake Chard of Layton is facing Michelle D. Arciaga of Layton in District 15.

- Rep. Susan J. Koehn of Woods Cross will square off with Richard G. "Dick" Brown of Centerville in District 18.

- Rep. Sheryl Allen of Bountiful will face Ernie Cox of Bountiful in District 19.

- Rep. Richard M. Siddoway of Bountiful has two opponents in District 20 with Robert K. Freestone and Larry Parker, both of Bountiful.

- Sen. David H. Steele of West Point is being challenged by Jeffrey Ostler of Layton in the District 21 race.

In the Senate District 22 race, incumbent Sen. Craig Taylor of Kaysville withdrew his re-election bid to give challenger Terry R. Spencer of Layton the likely nomination.