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Decision day nears for Utah party delegates
State party conventions » After being center of attention for weeks, delegate votes Saturday.
First Published Apr 19 2012 06:54 pm • Last Updated Aug 05 2012 11:33 pm

Curtis Poole loves politics. He obsessed about them as a kid watching Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan duke it out for the presidency in 1984 and thought a bit about being a participant in the process for years after that.

Until one day — March 15 to be exact — the 39-year-old Woods Cross man stood up at his neighborhood Republican caucus, gave a one-minute speech focused on smaller government and a strong national defense — and took the plunge. He ran for GOP state delegate.

At a glance


Where, when » The state GOP Convention is set to begin 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.

The races:

Governor » Gary Herbert, Morgan Philpot, David Kirkham, Kenneth Sumsion, Lane Ronnow, William Skokos

U.S. Senate » Orrin Hatch, Dan Liljenquist, Chris Herrod, Kevin Fisk, Loy Brunson, Dale Ash, Timothy Aalders, William “Dub” Lawrence, David Chiu, Jeremy Friedbaum

1st Congressional District » Rob Bishop, Jacqueline Smith, Leonard Fabiano

2nd District » Chris Stewart, David Clark, Cherilyn Eagar, Jason Buck, Bob Fuehr, Chuck Williams, John Willoughby, Howard Wallack, Edward Mayerhofer, Jeramey McElhaney, Milton Hanks

3rd District » Jason Chaffetz, Lynn Wardle, Brian Jenkins

4th District » Mia Love, Carl Wimmer, Stephen Sandstrom, Jay Cobb, Kenneth Gray

Attorney general » John Swallow, Sean Reyes

State auditor » Auston Johnson, John Dougall


Where, when: The state Democratic Party Convention is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.

The races:

U.S. Senate » Pete Ashdown, Scott Howell

1st Congressional District » Ryan Combe, Donna McAleer

2nd District » Jay Seegmiller, Dean Collinwood, Michael Small

3rd District » Soren Simonsen, Richard Clark

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He won.

And what exactly did the first-time delegate win? A stack of mailers almost six inches high, hundreds of phone calls from candidates and the chance to be among a relatively small group (4,000) who will have a big say in picking the Republican nominee for governor, attorney general, U.S. senator and 2nd Congressional District representative.

"By Saturday, I want to know who I’m going to vote for," Poole said recently. "Right now, I’m still undecided on some of the races."

That meant John Swallow, candidate for attorney general, looked to be closing the deal with Poole at an IHOP in Centerville on Tuesday night. Swallow, the current chief deputy in Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s Office, leaned over a table lined with syrup bottles and jam packets and shook Poole’s hand.

"Nice to see you, Chris," Swallow said.

Poole corrected him. It wouldn’t turn out to be a fatal error.

"I think I’m leaning toward him," he said after Swallow spent about 45 minutes talking to the dozen delegates while Poole digested strawberry crepes, whipped cream and political rhetoric.

But then he brought up Sean Reyes, who is running against Swallow. Reyes had called Poole personally while Swallow leaned on robo-calls. Poole liked Reyes personally and was slightly concerned by a line Swallow had delivered: that the political ambition to run only took hold recently with the passage of President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care bill and Utah’s fight to possess land owned by the federal government.

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Poole noted Swallow had run for Congress twice and lost.

So, he asked the candidate about political ambition.

"Is that a bad thing?" Swallow asked, before explaining how he thought those bids were the right ones at the time and now saw being the state’s top lawyer as the best fit for his skills.

Poole accepted the answer. He just wasn’t sure how he’d vote Saturday.

Budding interest » Born in Idaho, Poole said he grew up watching Salt Lake City-based television stations and, for years, assumed his state senators were Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn and his governor was Scott Matheson.

He went to the University of Utah — though he cheers for Brigham Young University out of obligation to a Cougar-based family — and served an LDS Church mission to Ecuador. It was there he cast his first ballot for President George H. W. Bush in 1992.

Now he’s in North Salt Lake City trying to decide who to vote for in the crowded race for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

"This is the toughest one," Poole said.

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