Becker in the Driver’s Seat for 2015

Bad news Monday for former state Rep. Jackie Biskupski, current Sen. Jim Dabakis or any other Democrat who was looking to run for Salt Lake City mayor next year.

Mayor Ralph Becker, a Democrat, announced Monday morning that he would seek a third, four-year term in 2015.

Clearly, Becker enters the race the clear favorite; if for no other reason than no incumbent mayor has lost a re-election bid since the mid-1970s.

Becker is only the third mayor to seek a third term in recent history.

Former governor and mayor J. Bracken Lee, under the old commission form of government, served 12 years as mayor from 1960 through 1971.

But back then there were four commissioners and a mayor, and all served on the commission.

The mayor held the chief executive title, but had no more power than the other four commissioners; he was considered only the “first among equals.”

Former mayor Ted Wilson was first elected mayor under the commission form of government back in 1975.

A city power struggle scandal in early 1979 caused the commissioners to call for a change of government referendum by city residents; and citizens changed their form of government from the commission style to the strong mayor executive/council form of government.

Wilson ran for mayor under the new form of government in 1979 and won. He won a third term as mayor in 1983, but resigned the post in 1985 to become head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Former city councilman Palmer DePaulis ran in 1985 to fill out the final two years of Wilson’s third term, and was re-elected mayor in 1987.

DePaulis didn’t seek re-election in 1991, and local businesswoman Deedee Corradini won the mayor’s post. She ran into some political troubles, and actually finished second in the 1995 mayoral primary. But she recovered and won re-election later that year.

Corradini then suffered her own scandal, related to a firm she had worked for and her request from several wealthy Utahns for $10,000 gifts so she and her then-husband would not lose their expensive home on the Upper Avenues.

Corradini, the city’s first female mayor, retired from office at the end of her second term.

Local, vocal, attorney Rocky Anderson, who had lost a U.S. House race several years earlier, was elected mayor in 1999.

A liberal Democrat, Anderson always seemed to be in one kind of political storm or another – always lively, always involved in a ruckus.

He won re-election in 2003 and retired after two terms the end of 2007.

Becker, a former minority leader in the Utah House, was a mild-mannered politician, just the opposite of Anderson.

He won the open seat in 2007 and re-election in 2011.

Should Becker win a third term in 2015, he would be the third mayor to do so since WWII.

However, both Lee and Wilson won at least one term under the old commission form of government.

Becker would be the first to seek, and win, all three of his four-year terms under the strong mayor/council form of government.

While Salt Lake City mayor’s races are officially non-partisan – candidates’ names on the ballot are not listed with a political party – all mayors since Jake Garn in the early 1970s have been Democrats, of one shade or another.

Over the years the final two mayoral candidates have, at times, both been Democrats, in other elections there was a Republican against a Democrat.

But the Republican candidate, over the last 40 years has never won.

And Salt Lake City has become one of the few Democratic strongholds in otherwise very Republican Utah.

It’s safe to say that trend will hold in 2015 – should there be a Republican on the final ballot he or she would be bucking political history to gather a victory.

If Becker had decided to retire there would have been a large field of Democrats – likely including Biskupski and Dabakis (the former head of the Utah Democratic Party) — interested in race.

How many well-known Democrats will challenge Becker now is another story.

The candidate filing deadline is not until next summer.

But a competitive mayor’s race will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it’s likely any serious candidates for the post will have to declare and begin fund raising soon after the first of the year.