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After wild race, Democrats elect Daisy Thomas as new state chairwoman

First Published      Last Updated Jun 21 2017 11:04 am


Politics » Daisy Thomas calls for unity in what she describes as a divided party.

Utah Democrats elected Daisy Thomas as their chairwoman on Saturday, after she pledged to help heal what she called a divided party.

"The Utah Democratic Party is a house divided against itself," she told delegates — in part because of divisions between progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders (including herself) and more old-school supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Case in point: The party was rocked by a rough-and-tumble, nine-candidate battle for party chairman. It included Rob MIller —a former party chairman and treasurer once considered a frontrunner — earlier withdrawing amid allegations of sexual harassment. He also left the party and reregistered as unaffiliated.




"I am here to say there is still hope for Utah Democrats," Thomas said, whose supporters campaigned by wearing pins of daisies. "Cooperation itself is the path."

She added, "When we cooperate, when we come together with respect and understanding … the old divisions and the bad blood wash away."

In her speech to delegates, Thomas also praised a group offering a silent protest there against a decision by party leaders not to release results of their probe into allegations against Miller.

"I respect the fact that we have protesters," adding that dissent can be a power for change, she said.

Seven women — including the former chairwoman of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party — accused Miller in a letter to party officials of unwanted kissing, grabbing, touching and making inappropriate comments to women, and said he twice pulled down his pants to show his Mormon undergarments when he was active in that religion.

Miller denied the allegations — and blamed them on "a very well-planned-out conspiracy" to help ensure the next party chairman would be a woman. He blamed the allegations on supporters of rival candidate Nadia Bowman, who denied involvement.

Bowman finished second in the race to Thomas.

Just before the convention, Miller endorsed Julianne Waters for chairman, with a secondary endorsement for Ed Schwartz.

On a Facebook post, Miller wrote, "I also know that Julianne and Ed will have nothing to do with the type of negative electioneering that has plagued this chair's race and has ripped the party apart."

Both were eliminated in the first round of voting.

Outgoing Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon on Saturday was targeted, among others, by protesters upset that he and other leaders would not release results of the probe into Miller.

They stood with their backs to him as he spoke, many wearing tape over their mouths and holding signs saying the party silenced them — as Corroon spoke against the sort of divisiveness shown in the chairman race.

"Utah will be blue, mark my words," Corroon said. "To get there, we must unite. We must not attack each other."

Meanwhile, allegations about other candidates in the race surfaced in emails to delegates, ranging from unsubstantiated allegations of marijuana use by one to alleging that another ignored outstanding warrants (for a minor traffic ticket, which was paid after complaints arose).

 

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