In the end, a last-minute rule change at the Salt Lake County Democratic convention propelled Ben McAdams to the outright nomination for County Mayor and ended Ross Romero’s hopes.
At the beginning of the day, the party’s central committee approved a change to their constitution which allowed for a second round of voting in races with only two candidates if one got 57% or more in the first round. Previously, only races with three or more candidates allowed for multiple rounds of voting. The amendment allows delegates the opportunity to change their vote to avoid a primary election.
After limited debate, Rep. David Litvack, a Romero supporter, attempted to table the change, saying there hasn’t been enough time to consider the ramifications.
“Making this change the day of the convention is not fair to candidates. There is lots of discussion that still needs to happen before we make this decision.”
That motion was overwhelmingly defeated and the change was approved.
Those ramifications became readily apparent when, in the first round of balloting, McAdams won just over 57% support from delegates, sending the nomination to a second round.
As delegates prepared to vote a second time, McAdams asked them to reconsider their support and give him the nomination to avoid a primary.
“We need to conserve resources this year. It’s going to be a tough year for Democrats, and we need to avoid a primary if we can.”
Romero asked delegates to send him to a primary against McAdams saying his message deserved to go forward into June.
That didn’t happen. In the second round, McAdams was able to grab more than 61% of the vote to Romero’s 38%. Had the rules not changed, Democrats would be discussing a primary.
After the results, Romero was gracious in defeat, leaping to the stage to congratulate McAdams and urge Democrats to work to elect him in November. But, he’s not bitter about the change in the playing field that ended his campaign.
“Look, the rules are the rules. We both ran great campaigns, and the delegates made their decision.”
Attendance at the convention was overwhelming. Many of the morning caucus meetings were standing room only, while others overflowed their assigned rooms.
County Party Chair Mary Bishop said turnout gives them momentum heading into November.
“Our voters are jazzed, and today just proves that.”
In other contested races:
· Rep. Brian Doughty, the only openly gay member of the Utah legislature, lost his bid for another term to Angela Romero in House District 26.
· Rep. Neal Hendrickson will face Liz Muniz in a primary for House District 33
· Senate District 8 heads to a primary election between Ty McCartney and Josie Valdez.
· Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck easily fended off a challenge from Richard Goldberger in House District 24.
· Sam Granato won the nomination for County Council District 4 after two rounds, defeating Deb Henry.