Surprises, upsets at county conventions

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Saturday was a big day for both Republicans and Democrats in Salt Lake County as both parties held their yearly conventions.

Call this the year of the Tea Party. Frustrated voters and delegates are ousting incumbents across the country in exchange for fresh blood, and Saturday brought examples of that attitude in Utah.

At the GOP county convention at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, delegates voted out House District 47 incumbent Steven Mascaro. Instead, relative newcomer Ken Ivory will go on the party's ticket.

Ivory considers himself part of the Tea Party movement. "We're tired. We're concerned about our kids, we're concerned about our future," he says.

Party officials for both Republicans and Democrats say they expect to see more surprises come election night.


"Definitely there's national discontent and that's spilling over into these local races," said Thomas Wright, chairman of the Salt Lake County Republicans. "People are motivated and energized to go elect people who represent their values

Incumbent Merylynn Newbold will go into a primary election against Steven Roberts for House District 50. There will also be a primary for the at-large county council seat between Richard Snelgrove and Winston Wilkinson.

Wayne Holland, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, says part of the discontent comes with current Utah politics.

"The anti-incumbency is affecting both parties across the country," he said. "I think there's a lot of frustration with the Utah legislature and what people believe is an entitlement and arrogance to a degree that they're changing long-time incumbents."

Republicans also voted to hold two primaries, one for county council and one for House District 50.

Meanwhile, at the Democratic county convention at West High School, Sim Gill defeated Greg Skordas in the race for district attorney. He'll face off against Republican Lohra Miller, a repeat of last election.

"There is a visceral feeling that it is time for change, and I think we're going to build on that change and I think it's going to be hard work and we're not going to shy away from it," says Gill.

Holly Mullen won the chance to run on the Democratic ticket for the county council seat left open by her stepdaughter, Jenny Wilson.

Democrats and Republicans both say they were pleased with the turnout at their conventions. The Republicans had more than 90 percent of their delegates show.

They say it's indicative of the change many Americans want to see happen come November.

"The incumbents are going to struggle this year because people associate them with the system," Wright says. "That doesn't mean every incumbent is in trouble, but we did see examples of that today."

In Utah County, incumbents came out on top during Saturday's Republican convention at Mountain View High School in Orem. The representatives for House Districts 57, 60, 65 and 66 all won enough delegate votes to avoid a primary and run in this November's election.

The Deseret News reports the only race that will go to a vote in the June's primary is the race for House District 63.

The next big political event happens May 8 when delegates choose candidates for the Senate at the state convention.

The state primary elections are set for June 22, gearing up for the final election in November.



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Sarah Dallof


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