There will be no primary elections for Democrats in Salt Lake County this year.
Saturday's county Democratic convention in the Salt Palace saw Mike Reberg get a county commission nomination and former state Rep. Paula Julander spoil former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson's political comeback. Julander eliminated Wilson in a second round of balloting.The Wilson-Julander race was the premiere event - Reberg was always ahead of Paulina Flint among county party loyalists.
Wilson barely survived a first-round vote, 59.9 percent for Julander to 40.1 percent for Wilson. It takes 60 percent to win a nomination in the convention.
But more Wilson delegates left the convention than did Julander's as the meeting crawled past noon. On a second ballot, Wilson fell - 63 percent for Julander, 37 percent for Wilson.
Between the first and second round of voting, nine Julander delegates left the Salt Palace convention. But 14 people who had voted for Wilson didn't show up again, and he fell below the 40 percent he needed to get into a June 23 primary election.
It's the second time in just over a year that Wilson has been frustrated in getting back into elective office. Last summer Wilson applied for an appointment to an open seat to the Salt Lake City Council. But council members refused to appoint him.
Wilson jumped into the Senate District 1 Democratic contest just days before the March 17 filing deadline this year. Julander organized mass meetings well and knew the convention was her best shot in defeating Wilson - a well-known politician who could raise more money than her and run a well-organized primary race.
Wilson hugged Julander after the second-round voting was announced and promised support to her. County Democratic Chairman Joe Hatch, in addressing the convention on the District 1 contest, said whoever got his party's nomination would win.
"This is one of the few (legislative) districts in the state that votes Democratic," Hatch said.
District 1 covers the Avenues and University of Utah areas of northeastern Salt Lake City. Current Sen. Bob Steiner, D-Salt Lake, is retiring from the seat and was a strong Julander backer.
Reberg swamped Paulina Flint on the first ballot by winning 84 percent of delegate votes (520 for Reberg, 99 for Flint). Since he started his race, Reberg has been perceived as more "electable" than Flint, meaning he has wider appeal to both Democrats and Republicans, something Flint called "hogwash."
But even within her own party, despite a credible challenge to GOP Commissioner Brent Overson two years ago, Flint has been on the outs with leadership and is seen as a maverick.
"I think she's burned too many bridges," another candidate said.
After the vote, Reberg told the Deseret News he is planning to take a leave of absence from his job as deputy director for the county's Department of Public Works to concentrate on campaigning full time.
In November he will face either Steve Harmsen or Mark Shurtleff, who are vying for the Republican nod. Democrats were heartened by the elimination of GOP candidate David Marshall in convention last week, whom they perceived as Reberg's biggest threat.
Karen Crompton, the Democratic candidate for GOP Commissioner Mary Callaghan's seat, did not have an intra-party challenger. When asked about her chances she referred to a recent Deseret News poll that showed her to be only 2 percentage points behind Callaghan.
"I think that's phenomenal" at this stage of the election where name recognition is all-important, she said.
Former Democratic County District Attorney David Yocom is vying for his old position, which will be a unified county attorney/
district attorney job after the election. He took shots at both current county attorney Doug Short, who is not seeking re-election ("Thanks for leaving, Doug!" shouted Yocom), and District Attorney Neal Gunnarson, who is.
Gunnarson is perceived as vulnerable due to his refusal to prosecute Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini for accepting $231,000 in gifts from wealthy Utahns and others and his attempt to suppress a newspaper story critical of him by taking two stacks of papers from news stands.
Unlike Gunnarson's Republican challenger, Mark Griffin, Yocom declined to say whether he would have prosecuted Corradini.
"I can't say I would have, because I haven't seen the evidence," Yocom said. "If anybody does say so, they're either unethical or stupid."
Time and again, Hatch and other Democratic speakers took shots at county Republicans, who last week in their Salt Palace convention saw two Republicans arrested for passing out literature that county GOP leaders said was "illegal."
At one point, Hatch said it was even OK that a man in a cowboy hat and boots was walking around in the palace lobby holding up a sign that said "Send Deedee to jail." The sign referred to Corradini and her past legal problems.
"Some people here don't like that sign," Hatch said. (Corradini is a Democrat, although she is not a party insider and hasn't been seen in a party convention in recent history). "They can carry a sign, as long as they don't hurt me," he joked.
State House contests also all proved final - there will be no primaries for Democrats there as well.
Those results are: House District 22, Carl Duckworth wins the nomination over Steven Hogan; House District 24, Rep. Ralph Becker eliminates Thomas Taylor; House District 26, Fred Fife wins over Conrad Lloyd; House District 27, Rep. Loretta Baca eliminates Tom Vasiliou; House District 34, Dennis Carty eliminates Ed Anderton; House District 45, Michael Olsen wins over Ed Paul Smith, who withdrew; and House District 51, Sherry Hall is the nominee over Gary Armstrong.
With Salt Lake Democrats' actions Saturday, there will be Democratic Party primaries in the county. Lily Eskelsen is the only Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Merrill Cook and Scott Leckman is the only Democrat running against U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett.
Even though the Salt Lake mayoral race is non-partisan, delegates held a fund-raising straw poll Saturday on which candidate they'd support in 1999. Each vote cost $2, but for $5 the delegates got three votes.
State Rep. Dave Jones received 585 votes, attorney Ross Anderson 290, former county commissioner Jim Bradley 115, Corradini 47 and Mike Zuhl 30.