Former Utah Democratic Chairman Wayne Holland mulling bid for Utah State Senate

This year’s election in SD8 could prove to be one Utah’s most intriguing legislative contests. has learned that former Utah State Democratic Chairman Wayne Holland is considering running for the Democratic nomination in that district. He would join a field that includes Kathie Allen, who lost to Republican John Curtis in last year’s 3rd CD special election and Kathleen Riebe, who is on the Utah State Board of Education.

The SD8 seat unexpectedly became open this year when Brian Shiozawa resigned to take a position with the Trump administration.

Republican delegates picked physician Brian Zehnder to replace Shiozawa for the 2018 Legislative Session. Zehnder has already filed to run for the remaining two years left in the current term.

Holland tells in a text message that he’s pondering a run this year and he’s being “encouraged by many” to jump into the race. 

A Facebook page pushing to recruit Holland for the SD8 race has popped up within the last week. Holland was chairman of the Utah State Democratic Party from 2005 until 2011.

Several Democrats have privately expressed worries about Allen’s ability to win the race should she get the nomination this year, especially after two high-profile incidents involving where she made negative comments about religion on Twitter.

Shortly after losing the CD3 special election to Republican John Curtis, Allen posted a message on Twitter saying voters only picked Curtis because he was a member of the LDS Church and a Republican. After much criticism, she deleted the post.

In January she caused another firestorm after seemingly denigrating Sen. Zehender’s religion. She questioned whether Zehender’s faith as an evangelical Christian squared with his profession as a physician. Again, she deleted the post after public outcry.

Democrats see SD8 as an opportunity to pick up a seat in the Senate, where they currently only hold 5 out of 29. However, this district has been traditionally Republican for most of the past two decades. The only Democrat to win SD8 was Karen Morgan, who held the seat for one term before retiring.

According to data from L2 Political, 45% of the voters in SD8 are unaffiliated, while 34% are Republican and 17% are registered Democrats.