PROVO — Utah County Democrats will honor a former Republican governor on May 22 whey they give Olene Walker the organization's first distinguished service award.

The point, said Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Davis, is to recognize a moderate politician who worked with both of Utah's major political parties.

"I think this sends a message that we think that Olene Walker was a governor who tried to bridge the gap between the parties, who was a moderate, mainstream kind of person," Davis said. "That's how we see ourselves from the other side of the partisan divide."

Walker was Utah's governor in 2003 and 2004 after the resignation of Gov. Michael Leavitt, who left state office to become director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Walker ran for election for a full term as governor in 2004 but was defeated at the Utah State Republican convention by Jon Huntsman Jr., who went on to win the general election.

"Since her rejection by the Republican party in 2004, Gov. Walker has not received the recognition she deserves for the many years of service she gave to the state," Davis said. "We wanted to do that."

Walker will be honored at the Democrats' spring dinner at the Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center. The keynote speaker at the dinner will be former Utah Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell.

Tickets for the event cost $100 for the dinner and reception, and $75 for dinner alone. They can be purchased at or by contacting Will Matheson at [email protected] or 801-356-0290. Proceeds will go to a student campaign internship fund.

— Marc Haddock