Saturday, it was the Utah Democrats turn to rally their forces ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, and hopefully break the Republican stranglehold on Utah’s Congressional delegation.
The two marquee matchups for Democratic delegates were the U.S. Senate race and choosing an opponent for Rep. Mia Love in Utah’s 4th CD, although the latter is likely the only competitive race for Democrats in the Beehive State this year.
While last Saturday’s GOP convention highlighted deep rifts within the party, with nary a mention of the Democrats coming from the convention stage, the moderately sized crowd of Utah Democrats at the Salt Palace spent a good portion of the day blasting Republicans and their policies.
“Moral bankruptcy are not the ideals of this nation. Callous indifference to the suffering of the poor is not our moral obligation,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gil during a rip-roaring opening address. “Snuffing out the middle class is not good policy. Shameless silence in Washington is not who we are.”
Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake thundered against Republicans during a revival-tent style keynote speech.
“There is a difference when Democrats are elected and in office. Lives are better when Democrats are in power. While Republicans fight for the 1%, we will stand up for all,” he said.
The 4th Congressional District candidates took some big shots at incumbent Republican Mia Love, who is thought to be Utah’s most vulnerable Republican in Congress. Even though CD4 is ranked as R+13 by the Cook Political Report, meaning it should perform 13-points better for Republicans than the national average, Love only carried the district by about 7,000 votes in 2016. CD4 is ranked as the 91st “most Republican” in the nation by the Cook Partisan Voter Index.
“We need a leader who will show up, not one who hides from her constituents,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, the presumptive frontrunner in the race, taking a swipe at Love. “We don’t need someone who’s voting record aligns with Donald Trump 98% of the time. This seat belongs to the people of Utah, not Donald Trump.”
Progressive candidate Tom Taylor threw a wrench into the race, dropping out and throwing his support behind Darlene McDonald to keep McAdams from claiming the nomination.
“Utah Democrats have a history of playing it safe, and nominating moderate candidates,” said Taylor. “This is a failed strategy. Utah will see a ‘blue tsunami’ if we nominate the right candidate.”
McDonald also blasted Love as being a pawn of big money special interests.
“Mia Love takes her walking orders from the NRA. Let’s make sure that NRA stands for ‘Never Reelected Again’ this year,” said McDonald.
McAdams prevailed on the first ballot, winning the nomination outright with 72% of the vote.
The U.S. Senate race was also not close during the first ballot, with Jenny Wilson cruising to the nomination with 81%.
Wilson had a few choice lines ripping GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, who was forced into a primary election against Utah State Rep. Mike Kennedy at last week’s GOP convention.
“Donald Trump can’t wait for Mitt Romney to show up with the Romney rubber stamp,” said Wilson. “Where does Mitt stand on anything? He flips and flops like a wet fish on a dry dock.”
The most entertaining speech of the day came from U.S. Senate candidate Larry Livingston, who took the stage by himself and ripped Democrats for not supporting him and his centrist ideas.
“I know none of you are going to vote for me. If you think you are going to win this state with your radical agenda, you’re on better drugs than I am,” he said.
Livingston then delivered a spiteful mic drop.
“When I ran before, I told you Donald Trump was going to win, and you called me stupid. Well, you’re stupid!” he said before storming off the stage.
In the other Congressional District races, Shireen Ghorbani captured 88% of the ballots to win the nomination outright, while James Singer is the nominee in CD3, having won 77% in the first round.
The CD1 race between Kurt Weiland and Lee Castillo moved to a primary election as neither captured 60% at the convention.