B.T. Price, a perennial candidate Democrats pushed aside for fear he would replace Dave Watson in the race for Salt Lake County Commission, has filed a protest with the county clerk.
If the clerk won't put him on the ballot against Republican M. Tom Shimizu, Price will file a lawsuit, he said."I know too much. They're afraid I'll expose things," Price, who calls himself the unofficial mayor of West Second South, said about why Democrats didn't want him on the ballot, replacing him at the last minute with Riverton Mayor Dale Gardiner.
Price gave County Clerk Dixon Hindley a letter of protest during a turbulent press conference Tuesday morning. The letter was written by Joseph Stumph, a Republican candidate for the state Legislature. Stumph insisted he was not acting on behalf of the Republican Party.
"I just felt Mr. Price was railroaded illegally from the party," Stumph said.
Hindley said he would give the letter to County Attorney David Yocom. That caused Price to begin yelling that Hindley, a Republican, and all other politicians were against him.
"You politicians always pull this stuff on a superior candidate," he said.
Stumph said Yocom should not decide which Democrat is on the ballot because Yocom is a Democrat.
"I think there's a conflict of interest here," Stumph said.
Price was prepared to challenge Watson, the incumbent, for the nomination during the party's county convention. But Watson was arrested May 15 and later convicted of drunken driving and two misdemeanor drug charges.
Democrats then made it clear they did not want Price to represent the party on the ballot.
State law prohibits political parties from replacing candidates after the filing deadline unless the candidate can show he is physically or mentally disabled. Before the convention, a doctor at Wasatch Canyons Hospital certified that Watson was suffering from a mental disorder. Democrats replaced Watson with Riverton Mayor Dale Gardiner, who then beat Price for the nomination.
Later, Deputy County Attorney Gavin Anderson issued a opinion stating that the maneuver was legal. The letter by Price and Stumph challenges that opinion.
Among other things, they charge Watson was not properly certified as being mentally disabled.
"If he is (entally disabled) why hasn't the county attorney started proceedings to have him removed from office?" the letter said.
State Democratic Chairman Randy Horiuchi said the party does not want Price as its candidate.
"B.T. Price does not at all reflect the Democratic image and ideal - a progressive kind of image," he said. "Even for tax protesters, Dale Gardiner provides the kind of model you want to have. Riverton has the lowest taxes in the valley."