Richard Piatt ReportingExcitement and optimism are translating into well-funded campaigns for Democratic presidential candidates. They're also also leading to a first in Utah: Four presidential candidates are visiting the state this summer.
Utah Democrats were about as pumped at Saturday's off-year convention as they've been any year in recent memory. One reason is the slate of presidential candidates coming here this year, including Senator Christopher Dodd.
"For the past six years, the Bush administration has squandered so much of what makes this America great," he said.
Dodd's wife, Jackie, grew up in Orem in a mostly Republican family. But she says Democrats deserve a chance to win in Utah, especially this year.
"There is a lot of dissatisfaction, and this is a nice positive way for them to channel their energy. So it's nice that Utah is also getting some attention," she said.
More than 700 people packed Friday's Jefferson-Jackson dinner to hear another White House hopeful, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Raising money is an important reason for this campaign swing.
Campaign for President Fund Raising
(Total, April-June 2007)
Democrats $80 million
Republicans $50 million
From: Associated Press
And if donations are any indication, Democrats seem more excited nationwide. Recent April-to-June campaign finance reports show Democrats outraising Republicans during the period with a total of $80 million to $50 million.
But the slew of Democratic candidates also leaves the party in danger of in-fighting. Friday, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were caught by open microphones discussing their rivals.
"They're being trivialized." "They're not serious," they said.
This possible plotting to limit joint appearances does not sit well with other hopefuls.
Richardson said, "I believe the American people should be allowed to make a decision based on the debates, unfiltered from consultants and big-money interests."
In spite of political drama, there seems to be enough appetite for change that Utah Democrats are more hopeful than they've been in a long time.