Republicans, Democrats Elect Leadership at Conventions

Republicans, Democrats Elect Leadership at Conventions

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Richard Piatt reportingRepublicans and Democrats have something in common this weekend: Hot, stuffy conventions and inter-party rivalry.

This is the weekend both parties hold their organizing conventions. Democrats fought over a chairman; Republicans battled over a platform.

Delegates turned out in droves both for the Democrats, and for the Republicans to pick their leaders for the next election.

A lot of people are already sensing 2004 will be a big political year in Utah.

Hundreds of Democrats swarmed Highland High school--energized, they say, by keynote speaker Scott Matheson Junior.

But that party's favorite candidate for governor soon took a back seat to the main business of the day: A vote for party chairman.

The hallway was packed with delegates, all with strong opinions about whether it's time for a change in party leadership.

In what some call an 'upset', one-time Congressional candidate Donald Dunn challenged current chair Meghan Holbrook, and won.

Donald Dunn/Utah Democrat Party Chair-elect: "I think what's important for us as democrats is that we're proactive and positive about our message. I think that the last six years Meg has done a good job, and I appreciate the time she's put in. I just think we've got a lot of work to do."

Under Dunn's leadership the party chair job will be a paid position, something he says the party can afford.

Holbrook says that money could take away from the candidates' campaigns.

But after Dunn's victory, Holbrook insists she wants what's best for the party.

Meghan Holbrook/Utah Democrat Party Chair: "I think the one thing that you can count on is the democrats are going to come together because we're going to elect the next governor of Utah, Scott Matheson."

For Republicans, there were--at times--tense moments between more conservative members of the party.

And delegates were pulled at least five ways by prospective gubinatorial candidates: Jim Hansen, Marty Stephens, Jon Huntsman Junior, Fred Lampropolous and Nolan Karras---all spent the day working hard to sway delegates for support down the road.

In the end, delegates chose to re-elect Joe Cannon in the top job, also choosing to breathe new life in the political career of ex-congresswoman Enid Greene by electing her as vice-chair.

By voting in Enid Greene, Republicans ousted current vice chair Frank Guiluzza.

On the Democrat side, Nancy Jane Woodside was voted in as vice chair for the party to help Donald Dunn, who we understand won over Meghan Holbrook by a wide margin.

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