Utah’s Democrats elected a new leader on Saturday.
Former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon bested BYU professor Richard Davis by 36 points, winning 68% of the vote.
Corroon’s election came after former party chair Jim Dabakis stepped down for health reasons in March.
Corroon and Davis both signalled a shift in message for Utah’s Democrats in their speeches.
“Democrats are the party that stands for the people of Utah,” said Corroon. “I want to give each county the resources they need to be effective in getting that word out.”
“I can persuade voters to vote for Democrats,” said Davis. “We need to show the voters of Utah who Democrats are and that we share their values. One vote for me will cause hundreds of thousands of Utahns to take a look at Democrats again.”
After his win, Corroon said it felt good to be back in the political game.
“If we want change, I need to be part of that change and help make a difference.”
It took two rounds of voting before Donna McAleer emerged victorious in the race for Utah’s 1st Congressional District. McAleer won the nomination on the second round with 66% of the vote.
McAleer, who advances to a November rematch against Republican Rob Bishop took direct aim at the veteran Congressman.
“Who does the government work for? The people, or Rob Bishop?” she said mockingly from the podium. “He’s been in office for 12 years and what has he done? Voted to shut down the government, which hit this state like a sledgehammer.”
Her opponent, physician Peter Clemens, also took umbrage with Bishop’s time in Washington.
“I think Rob Bishop needs to be released with a vote of thanks,” he said to a hearty round of applause. “We need to get rid of ‘John Boehner’s yes man.’ Bishop has voted 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Who better than a doctor from Utah to make sure that law stands and is strengthened?”
Weirdly, Utah Democrats did very little to honor outgoing Congressman Jim Matheson who is leaving Washington after more than a decade. He was referenced in a video honoring “retiring” Democratic officeholders, that also included Ross Romero, Brian Doughty and Neil Hendrickson, who all left office after the 2012 election.
In the race to replace Matheson, Doug Owens, son of late Democratic Rep. Wayne Owens, defeated Bill Peterson after grabbing a whopping 98% of the delegate vote. Owens will take on Mia Love in November.
Owens told Democrats he was the “only hope for keeping (Republican) Mia Love out of Congress.”
“I served a mission in France. If I can work with the French, then I can definitely work with Republicans,” he said. “Republicans are going to cross over (to vote for me) and we are going to win this race.
The John Swallow scandal was a big talking point, especially for Attorney General candidate Charles Stormont and 2nd CD nominee Luz Robles, both of whom captured the party’s nomination unopposed.
“There is no room for politics in the Attorney General’s office,” said Stormont. “I will not sell the AG’s office to the highest bidder.”
Robles echoed that obvious applause line.
“I could not sit back and not hold people like John Swallow accountable for their actions. I’m a Democrat who will stand up against government shutdowns. I will fight against those who have declared war against minorities and working families.”
Robles faces Republican Chris Stewart, while Stormont will be Republican Sean Reyes’ opponent.
Democrats also nominated Brian Wonnacott in Utah’s 3rd District against Republican Jason Chaffetz.