Thursday, April 7, 2011

Update 3: Jenny Wilson among candidates for Dem. party leadershi

Posted By on April 7, 2011, 11:44 AM

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The Utah Democratic Party's roster of candidates for party leadership is filling out, gaining this morning former Salt Lake City mayoral candidate and former Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson as candidate for vice chair.---

Wilson will face off against--at least--Tania Knauer, former secretary of the Summit County Democratic Party who was also involved in the Fair Boundaries campaign.(Updates 1 and 3 added Henry to the list, then noted that she filed her candidacy officially) Deb Henry first tweeted that she will run for vice chair of the Democratic Party, then registered officially the next day. Henry worked in the Jon Huntsman administration and works for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Party chair since 2004 Wayne Holland announced recently he will not seek reelection as party chair, leaving queer rights activist and art dealer Jim Dabakis to face off against middle-school teacher and party activist Robert Comstock in that competition.

South Jordan Chamber of Commerce board member and real estate professional Paul Pugmire is currently the only person registered for the secretary race, while Davis County Democrats chair Rob Miller will face former legislature candidate and IT professional John Rendell for treasurer.

For now, the deadline for applying for party leadership is April 19. The ambiguous deadline is just prior to any county party holding its organizing convention. Currently, that first meeting is scheduled in Washington County on April 19.

Update 2: I asked Salt Lake City Democrat Brendan Smith about the candidate list so far (follow him on Twitter at @BrenSmith. He was campaign manager for Salt Lake City Rep. Joel Briscoe in the 2010 election.

Smith says the race for party chair is notable, so far, for lacking an "old school," "centrist" candidate. Dabakis is well known for being involved in starting both Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, the state's premier queer-rights organizations; Comstock is most well known, Smith says, for volunteering on the Claudia Wright campaign, a progressive-lead effort to oust Blue Dog Democract Rep. Jim Matheson from his congressional seat. Dabakis has been "fund-raising and trying to drum up support for awhile," Smith says, possibly intimidating other candidates. "Essentially, it's a LGBT versus progressive [race]; it's not that simple, but it's different than what you've had before."

The other races, Smith says, "don't seem quite so different." Vice chair has three women running for office. Smith's characterization of each: Wilson, former candidate, well-liked; Knauer, a "power broker up in Summit County for quite some time;" Henry, progressive, climate change activist, also from the Wright campaign, and "she's got a lot of energy but hasn't been on the scene for very long."

Smith says he hasn't heard of any rumors of other candidates joining the fray but, "I still have to wonder if there isn't going to be some sort of centrist candidate for party chair. ... That's just my gut feeling." Time will tell.

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