Richard Piatt Reporting
Gold Medalist Jim Shea says he's ready for a career in politics, but his first experience has been a hardball encounter with the letter of the law, one that forced him to withdraw his candidacy for the Legislature.
Jim Shea: "I would really like to go. I really want to represent this area."
Jimmy Shea is as enthusiastic about politics as he was about his Olympic career, and it looks like he'll need that aggressive, never-quit attitude. Summit County Democrats found something to keep Shea out of a key Legislative race this year.
Rob Weyher, Summit County Democrat Chair: "The bottom line is I'm the chairman of the democratic party, and it's my job to get democrats elected."
To do that, the Summit County Democratic chair Rob Weyher dug for information at the place Shea trained for the Olympics, Lake Placid, New York. Buried in the Essex county records was information indicating Shea voted there in 2003. Utah state law says you have to be a resident three years in order to run for office here. Shea's vote in New York raises a legal-residency red flag.
Shea insists this is his home and has been since 1998. He just wants to run.
Jim Shea: "I want to be a louder and one of the fresher voices on the Hill. I'd really like to run against them. And if I can't do it this time, I'll do it next time. You gotta play by the rules."
For democrats, it's nothing personal against Shea, it's political strategy. They feel their candidate, Laura Bonham, has a better chance against Republican Mel Brown than Shea.
Rob Weyher: "If I can knock out Mel Brown's opponent, I'd like to do that. I'd like to see Mel Brown on the ballot, and I have reasons for doing that."
So now the race isn't what it could have been, but it will still be hard fought. And Shea says he'll be a part of it in two years.