Pssst, buddy. Over here. Yeah, right here. Got a tip for you. Can't miss.

Next time you wanna sound smart talking to important people in Utah Valley, bring up the Democrats.

Whahhh?

Shhh! I know, I know, but keep your voice down. Seriously. Listen, what they've done this year is staggering.

So, say you find yourself talking to some Very Important Know-It-All and you're just dying to be the one who knows more just this once. You tell this story.

Two years ago, Utah County Democrats fielded a measly six candidates for 13 seats in the state Legislature.

That handful of hopelessness, er, hopefuls, raised a meager $26,000 when you subtract the personal loans made by one candidate.

The Republicans, in those six contested races alone, raised nearly 10 times more, $243,000.

Oh, and the Republicans won every seat from Utah Valley.

As usual.

But your buddy already knows that.

So far this year, things are dramatically different, and the Know-It-All you want to impress doesn't know how much.

He may have read that the Democrats have 13 candidates for 13 seats.

But there's no way he knows those Democrats have raised a stunning $125,245.

You read it here first.

And by the way, the Republicans have raised $131,059.

That's right. So far, the cash race is a horse race. Democrats are the money leaders in seven of the 13 races.

Former Alpine School District Superintendent Steve Baugh has raised nearly $23,000 against Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem ($13,000).

Former Weber State University President and Brigham Young University Vice President Paul Thompson has raked in $17,000 to $3,000 for Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem.

Claralynn Hill has soaked up $19,000 in her bid to unseat Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo ($10,000).

Former BYU professor Don Jarvis has $12,000 compared to Provo Rep. Steve Clark's $3,500.

Now, be prepared. Your Know-It-All is going to throw a yeahbut at you.

As in, Yeah, but the ol' Republican machine will wheeze into action, get into gear and start hitting on all cylinders.

You'll roll your eyes at the cliches and then say, sure the local Grand Old Party can just about print dollars.

Tell your pal you know the local party chairwoman, Marian Monnahan, is convening a meeting of the party's executive committee next week to go over the budget. Then she'll start handing out between $50,000 and $75,000 to GOP candidates.

Republican money will pour in from other sources, like the Utah County Legislative PAC and the Utah Conservatives PAC.

Still, Monnahan herself is commending Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Davis for doing "a great job" organizing an apparent ground swell of interest in Democratic candidates.

And sure, what appears to be a sea change now may not lead to enough votes to change Utah Valley's seating chart in the Legislature next year.

But only a know-it-all would spoil a good horse race by predicting the finish and turning away. The Democrats have raised five times what they did two years ago, it's only June, and they've hardly spent a dime of this newfound cash.

Republican leadership isn't ignoring the challenge. Instead, party leaders are preparing to work three times as hard, Monnahan said. I asked her if Republicans might ever lose their dominance in Utah Valley and her voice took on a jaunty competitive edge.

"Not on my watch," she said.


Utah County Bureau Chief Tad Walch lives with his wife and five children in Provo, their home for the past 21 years. E-mail twalch@desnews.com.