Who’s the favorite to win the 2019 Salt Lake City mayoral race? Our ‘Political Insiders’ weigh in

In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Sen. Jim Dabakis announced last week he was jumping into the 2019 race for Salt Lake City mayor.

The 2019 field could be a crowded one. Along with Dabakis and incumbent Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City councilman Stan Penfold, businessman David Ibarra have declared their candidacy. David Garbett, the former executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition has filed paperwork to run, but has not announced his campaign yet.

We asked our “Political Insiders” which of the candidates who have already joined the race had the best chance of winning.

The Republicans on our panel thought Dabakis had the best shot at unseating incumbent Jackie Biskupski.

The Democrats who responded to our survey said Biskupski was the favorite in their eyes, followed by Dabakis and Ibarra.

Our readers picked Dabakis and Stan Penfold as their favorite.

Dabakis opted not to run for re-election to his Utah Senate seat in 2018. This is his second run for Salt Lake City Mayor. He announced his candidacy in 2015, but dropped out after 9 days and endorsed Biskupski.

The Salt Lake City mayoral contest is non-partisan. The top two candidates in the August primary election will advance to the general election in November.


Selected anonymous comments:

Dabakis and Biskupski both lack the ability to manage a city, but Dabakis tendency’ is towards kindness, Biskupski’s is meanness.

Name recognition will trump the incompetent incumbent in this race.

Jim just may win. The current Mayor doesn’t act like she likes the job. She also had some legislative experience, but she does not seem as “mayoral” to me as she used to. I don’t know why. I would vote for Jim if I lived in the city. I am not familiar with the other candidates, not living in SLC, however; I don’t think that a Republican has a “snowballs chance” to win in Salt Lake at this time.

Ibarra is a dynamic person with a rag to riches story. SLC should do the right thing and vote him in!

I believe Mayor Biskupski has done and will continue to do an exceptional job to represent the citizens of SLC.

I suspect there will be other candidates come forward before it is over. A race between Jim and Jackie would probably be somewhat of a negative bloodbath.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the city listening to the concerns of residents. How the inland port was managed (seen as a land grab from the city) and the failure to adequately address homelessness are issues that continue to come up on a weekly basis.

Jim has a great chance of winning but a very small chance of being a good mayor.

Salt Lake City needs a CEO-esque leader, not an issues-advocate or community organizer.

Incumbency coupled with a field of people who share a similar base of support means Biskupski is in good shape. How do two progressive gay men differentiate themselves substantially from a progressive lesbian woman? I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Ibarra sneak through the primary by virtue of not sharing a base with the others just to get beaten by Jackie in the fall.

Dabakis is everything SLC loves and he can out-charm anyone else in the field. He is very prone to political missteps in most of the state but not so much in SLC. If voters are looking to give a real platform to the person who most enjoys giving the Republican establishment a hard time, he’s the right pick. Whether or not he can actually run the city is another question.

I think Jim has the ability to work with the legislature and other parties to ensure that Salt Lake City a seat at the table. Jackie has proven that she does not have the leadership to do that. On the inland port and homeless issue, she has failed the city.

I don’t want Jackie to win but the others aren’t great options either. Please let there be better choices before we vote!

Dabakis has a much better media presence than the current mayor. He loves cameras and they like him.

Dabakis shouldn’t win, but based on name recognition and his pre-existing base, combined with Biskupski’s unpopularity, he probably will.

Jim will be awesome. If it displeases the right-wingers in the suburbs, that will just be an added bonus.

Despite bizarre behavior during the inland port process, Mayor Biskupski hasn’t had any serious missteps and seems to hold views in line with her liberal base. No reason to think she gets thrown out.

Salt Lake City liberal voters are activists first. Taking your ball and going home can actually be a winning political strategy there and the Mayor has doubled down on that approach (inland port, Rio Grande, etc.). Dabakis can be louder than she is and can say that he’s willing to find common ground. Jim is all about Jim but liberals love a great showman. Does anyone miss biking Becker yet?

Jim Dabakis will go wherever the next shiny thing is.

Jackie will win re-election, but it will be a little closer than the last election. A moderate Republican could have a good showing if he/she approaches the election with some common sense and moderate ideas.

Events will show that getting into bed with the Utah legislature on the inland port was a bad move for SLC, and Biskupski’s hands-off approach created better options for city residents.

Penfold clearly leads the current field, but only by default, given that: Biskupski is hugely underwhelming; Dabakis is hugely embarrassing; David Ibarra is a huge narcissist; and, David Garbett is a huge, wait… who the hell’s David Garbett? Am, I right, or what?

Stan is the only person on this list that has a track record of making a difference and substantial accomplishments. The current Mayor runs on accomplishments that started under the Becker administration and happened to come to completion during her time. Since then? The city has stalled. Sen. Dabakis likes to talk the talk, but when it comes to substantial improvements to the lives of everyday residents, I don’t see much accomplished. Stan has the ability to find consensus and get results to move this city forward.

Probably Dabakis, but God help us.

I love Jim but he’s a bit of a kook.

Jim Dabakis doesn’t take anything seriously and would be a disaster for Salt Lake City.

Name recognition goes a long way, especially for ranked choice voting (if that happens). That means Dabakis and Biskupski are the frontrunners, but Biskupski hasn’t been SLC’s favorite mayor, and I don’t expect to see a second term for her.

Dabakis is good at getting attention but that’s it. He’s never actually accomplished anything and would be a terrible mayor.

Heaven help us all if Jim Dabakis becomes mayor. We will face a never-ending stream of grandstanding in the media, and his policies will set the city back a decade or more.

When all the dust settles Jackie will shape up her ship and win.