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Former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon is seeking election as chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.
Utah's political parties to prune candidates
Politics » Conventions to determine GOP, Dems’ nominees.
First Published Apr 23 2014 05:39 pm • Last Updated Apr 23 2014 11:23 pm

Delegates to the Republican and Democratic state conventions Saturday will work to narrow the field of candidates in all four of Utah’s U.S. House districts and will also select a new chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.

They will vote on potential nominees in a dozen multicounty seats in the Legislature. And because some of those races have only Republican candidates, delegates to the GOP convention could determine some final winners.

At a glance

On Saturday

» Utah Republican Convention, 10 a.m., South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., in Sandy.

» Utah Democratic Convention, 10:30 a.m., Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple, in Salt Lake City.

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The state Republican convention is Saturday at 10 a.m. at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy. Democrats gather at 10:30 a.m. at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

If candidates receive 60 percent of delegate votes, they advance to the Nov. 4 final election. Otherwise, the top two face off in a June 24 primary.

Saturday may be the last time the conventions wield such power. A new law will allow candidates in two years to avoid the convention system and appear on the primary ballot by gathering signatures from registered voters.

However, Utah Republican Chairman James Evans has said his party may challenge that law in court, contending it interferes with how that party chooses its nominees. Supporters of the new system contend convention delegates are more ideologically extreme than most Utahns, and select nominees outside the mainstream.

GOP delegates Saturday will consider a resolution arguing that the change in the convention system is unconstitutional. They will also consider a measure calling on the Legislature to make races for all school boards partisan and another supporting transfer of federal lands to states and declaring that Utah should act to protect its sovereign rights.

4th District • The state’s most expensive race so far is to replace retiring Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Republicans and Democrats have convention contests for the seat.

Republican Mia Love, who narrowly lost to Matheson two years ago, seeks to become the first GOP black woman in Congress. She has raised more than $2 million this election cycle and still has $632,000 in the bank.


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Facing her is Bob Fuehr, a former executive with US West, who is financing his candidacy out of his own pocket. He has loaned $281,000 to his campaign, although he has repaid himself more than $90,000 of that.

"I’m excited for convention. I really can’t wait. It’s been a lot of fun for me, and meeting delegates is my favorite part of the campaign," Love said. She adds she has met so often with many delegates "that I’ve gotten to know them very well. They’ve become personal good friends of mine."

She said the biggest issues for her and delegates include "the national debt, deficit spending and, of course, Obamacare. They, like me, are worried about the overreach of the federal government." Love adds that she is "taking nothing for granted" but feels from meetings that she has strong support from delegates.

Fuehr said his business background is a key advantage.

"This is the time to send someone with real experience and real accomplishments to Washington, D.C., to better this country. Sound bites and inexperience have been contributing factors to the mess we are currently in."

He said he has been holding nearly daily meetings with delegates discussing the economy, jobs, immigration, public lands, health care and political integrity.

On the Democratic side, Doug Owens — the attorney son of the late Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah — is a heavy favorite against retired engineer Bill Peterson. Owens has raised nearly $133,000 from Democratic power brokers. Peterson has not filed a disclosure form.

Owens said he has spent little on the convention race because Peterson "has not been campaigning at all, so we have been saving our resources" for the November election.

"People are crying for someone willing to work across party lines to do the business of the country and not just hold their breath until they get their way," Owens said. "I’m not the kind of person who supports a government shutdown to make esoteric points."

He also said he chose to run because the American dream is disappearing, and he vows to work to improve the economy and help the middle class.

Peterson is campaigning on one major issue: reducing the deficit. "The deficit is the imbalance of trade. It’s $6 billion a day," he said. "I’ve been working on this for 20 years." He adds that Congress "has about 180 lawyers, and no engineers. I’m an engineer … so I can look at things scientifically." (Congressional Quarterly Roll Call reports Congress has six engineers.)

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