Utah Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi laid nearly every evil in the world at the feet of Republicans in a speech at Friday night's opening session of his party's convention. And the Democratic delegates loved it.
Horiuchi - praised by fellow Democrats as the man who led the party back from the depths of despair - said in 1988 Democrats will make greater gains than they did in 1986, when they won a congressional seat and doubled their numbers in the Utah House of Representatives."We're great because we chose not to give up in 1984 (hen Democrats lost the governorship and held few other offices)," Horiuchi said. "We stuck to our principles of compassion, opportunity, equity and fairness for all people."
The Democrats met only for several hours Friday evening in Cottonwood High School and then adjourned to Snowbird where they held a fund-raising dinner. Saturday, they will chose candidates for the major statewide offices and multicounty legislative districts as well as picking national committeeman and committeewoman and delegates to July's National Democratic Convention in Atlanta.
Two weeks ago Republicans held their state convention - which had a very different flavor than the Democrats' meeting. A draft-Merrill Cook movement led to a delegate fight and hard feelings among Republicans. Cook, a former Republican, is running an independent candidacy for governor against Gov. Norm Bangerter, a Republican, and Democrat Ted Wilson. Cook didn't attend the GOP convention and hasn't given up his independent candidacy for governor.
There was no draft-Cook movement in the Democratic convention Friday night, and party officials say they don't expect one Saturday.
Referring to the GOP convention, Horiuchi said: "It was a debacle, a firestorm that clearly signals this fact - if the Republicans can't resolve their problems internally, how can we trust them to solve the state's problems?
"In 1988, the voters will sweep the Republican rascals out and, yes, we will be expected to clean up after them. I'm not sure there is a pail and shovel big enough to clean up after this Republican elephant," Horiuchi said to the cheers of the delegates.
Strangely enough, after slamming Republican officeholders, especially Bangerter, Horiuchi said Democrats can't fight for Utah's future alone. "This is the year we must reach out and extend the olive branch to all Utahns regardless of political party. We must take the message of unity to our friends and neighbors, Republicans and independents, and urge them to vote for us."
He said the mantle of leadership will be passed from
Republican men and women "who tried, but failed," to the Democrats. He promised fair, responsible leadership in the mold of former Democratic Govs. Calvin L. Rampton and Scott M. Matheson.
The speech was, in a way, Horiuchi's swan song. He has already said that after the Nov. 8 election he will step down as party chairman. Friday's address was his last formal address to party loyalists. Horiuchi was praised by Rep. Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, for his continued harassment of the majority-party Republicans. "Horiuchi: (ith) fact or fiction he created an issue every week. He was always in the news, always taking the fight to the Republicans."