Richard Piatt ReportingWhile Republicans are occupied with a crowded race to nominate a candidate for governor, Utah's Democrats are quietly turning up the heat on their rivals. The major part of their strategy is simple: They're showing up in places they haven't been in a while.
For one, you'll see a difference in campaigns. More candidates are running---fewer races will be a slam-dunk for Republicans for the first time in years. And there's a lot going on behind the scenes, just enough to feed what top Democrats call a 'mood for change' in Utah.
Lately, there's been a lot of attention going to Republicans, especially the eight candidates for Governor. But you haven't heard much from the man who will be giving one of them a run for their money: Scott Matheson, Junior. Consider this the end to that silence.
Matheson is strategically waiting to hit the campaign hard until Republicans make up their minds about who's running.
Likewise, things are busy at the Utah Democrat's new headquarters. The large office is upstairs from the old place, an effort to shed the image of Democrats as 'the bargain basement party', according to one staffer. Energizing the party is top priority to Chairman Donald Dunn, who is looking for concrete results this year.
Donald Dunn, Utah Democratic Party Chairman: "I think that democrats know that in order to win, they've got to show up, and they're showing up."
Dunn has pushed to fill more candidate slots than before: every Federal and state race has a candidate for the first time since 1992. A few state representative slots are still vacant. Dunn has moved the State Convention out of the high school auditorium and into the Salt Palace; and more delegate slots are filled than before.
Die-hard Democrats are energized at a large turn out for a Presidential primary. But they still know Republicans dominate the state for a variety of reasons.
In important races for Governor, Congress, State House and Senate, Republicans are equally energized about important races. And the Grand Old Party also has more people getting ready than in a usual year.