SALT LAKE CITY — With most of the two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020 set to hold their first debates this week, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign released new endorsements from four states on Tuesday, including Utah.
"No other presidential candidate can help our down ballot folks more," said one of the five Utahns on the list, Wayne Holland, a former Utah Democratic Party chairman who expects to head the Utah for Biden campaign.
"People view him as likable and trustworthy. Biden has just been 'Uncle Joe' forever," he said. "He just has a way to make people comfortable, and I think Utah Democrats and independents have the perception he has been ready to go on day 1."
Holland said he expects Biden to make a campaign stop in Utah, possibly soon. In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,energized Democrats at a downtown campaign appearance where she laid out a new public lands policy.
Another Biden backer, state Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said he believes Biden's politics are more appealing to Utah voters than those of the party's more progressive candidates, such as Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders won big in Utah's presidential preference caucus in 2016, but Davis said progressives aren't "as loud as they were before," pointing to last Saturday's decision to replace a progressive party chairwoman with a businessman.
New Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Merchant describes himself as midway between moderate and progressive, while the now-former chairwoman, Daisy Thomas, was a grassroots activist in Sanders last presidential bid.
"I think (Biden's) going to do really good in Utah. The fact that he's moderate enough is going to draw people," Davis said. "The Utah state Democrats and Democratic Party traditionally has not been a real left-wing organization."
Holland, who withdrew last month from the state party chairman's race to get involved in Biden's campaign, said next year's March 3 Super Tuesday presidential primary in Utah will favor a moderate candidate.
"You're going to see the regular Democrats that wouldn't show up for a caucus meeting come out and vote," he said of a primary election. "Just the everyday people, people who have been Democrats forever" but aren't activists.
A political action coordinator for the United Steelworkers, District 12, Holland said he hopes to win back blue-collars workers who backed Republican President Donald Trump in the 2016 election over the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Two other labor leaders from Utah are endorsing Biden, Jack Tidrow, president of the Professional Firefighters of Utah, and Andy Allen, of the International Association of Machinists Local 568.
State Rep. Sue Duckworth, D-Magna, also endorsed Biden.22 comments on this story
The endorsements named by Biden's campaign Tuesday also included government and union officials from Iowa, South Carolina and Arizona. Iowa and South Carolina are early voting states and Arizona is seen as a potential battleground state.
Utah has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, although Trump won the state in the last election with 45.5 percent of the vote, his lowest margin of victory nationwide.
Biden said in a statement he is grateful for the support.
"I look forward to hitting the campaign trail alongside these influential voices in their communities and speaking with voters about rebuilding an inclusive middle class and unifying America," he said.