Democrats will have three major races to decide when they meet Friday and Saturday in their state convention - the U.S. Senate, 3rd Congressional District and attorney general contests.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson is being challenged by David E. Hewett. But almost everyone agrees Wilson will get more than 70 percent of the convention vote and eliminate the Orem physician in a routine fashion.In the U.S. Senate race, Brian Moss, son of former U.S. Sen. Frank Moss, hopes to also get 70 percent of the vote and knock out retired FBI agent Joe Cwik. Democratic leaders believe Moss has a chance at doing that. (see accompanying story.)
But the other races are closer and may end in primaries.
Craig Oliver and Bob Stringham face each other in the 3rd Congressional District race. Oliver ran against Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, two years ago. He ran a good race, but was handily defeated. Stringham is a former union leader at Geneva Steel and Utah County Democratic Party chairman. They are close
in the polls, and it will be difficult for either man to get 70 percent of the vote.
Lawyers Paul Van Dam and L. Zane Gill will face each other in the attorney general's race. Van Dam leads Gill by a large margin in the public-opinion polls. While Van Dam may have a chance at eliminating him, Gill believes he will survive the convention and face Van Dam in a Sept. 13 primary election.
Democrats will also name South Salt Lake Mayor James Davis as Wilson's lieutenant governor running mate. Wilson picked Davis a month ago. Since Davis had filed as the only Democratic candidate to run for state auditor, the delegates will pick a successor to Davis for that race.
The convention, held in Cottonwood High School, will also be an opportunity for Democrats to slam the Republicans, the majority party in Utah.
The Democratic platform, to be formally adopted Saturday, has three main planks: economic development, education and revenue and taxation. In each area, the Democrats point out what they say is the failed leadership of Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter and the Republican-dominated state House and Senate.
"Ours is a basic, moderate party platform," said Democratic State Chairman Randy Horiuchi. "We keep to the basics, basics we never left. We Democrats can get this economy moving again, educate our children and do it all with a fair, rationally thought-out taxing system."
Horiuchi said past Democratic platforms have tried to be all things to all people. "We tried to address every issue in the world. We've gone away from that, mainly because that approach forced some of our candidates to take stands on issues that they didn't agree with and, most often, weren't really important."
GOP State Chairman Craig Moody read the Democratic platform and said, "They sure do stay away from some issues. They don't even mention abortion, an issue we do address strongly and an issue every party should address."
Horiuchi agrees abortion isn't mentioned in the Democratic platform. "It is not an issue politicians, in this state or any state, will deal with. It is an issue for the courts now and for each individual." He added that the state party has stayed away from such "hot-button, moral issues" because "they blind the people to what is really going on."
"The Republicans spent too much time on the moral issues of abortion, cable TV regulation and the like and forgot the bread-and-butter issues of governing the state _ jobs, education and taxation. That's why we're in the mess we're in in Utah," Horiuchi said.
"We didn't even mention the Democrats in our platform," said Moody. "They make personal attacks against us in theirs. They raise all the problems in the state, blame us for them, and don't offer any solutions. I guess that's what you do when you're the minority party."