Editor’s Note: Over the next several weeks UtahPolicy.com will analyze several legislative races this year, the candidates and their political histories.
In Ogden’s House District 7 race this year it will be one old House member against an even older House member.
Republican Ryan D. Wilcox, who served just over four years from the Ogden/North Ogden district, 2009-2014, is trying to make a comeback this year.
He’s running against former Democratic Rep. Grant Protzman, who served 10 years in the House, from 1987 to 1997.
Wilcox’s comeback is not just political -- he nearly died in an automobile accident last year and has been making a tough recovery since.
For both men, getting in the race was kind of a last-minute thing, as freshman Rep. Kyle Anderson, R-North Ogden, decided not to run for re-election after serving in just two general legislative sessions.
Wilcox resigned from the Legislature to go to work for Sen. Mike Lee as his northern Utah community relations person.
He left that job several years ago to become community relations director for Intermountain Health Care, his current employer.
But Wilcox has stayed in the political arena, sometimes hosting Red Meat Radio, a conservative talk show on Saturday mornings.
And then a year ago he was part of the “reform” movement inside the Utah Republican Party to stop the infighting that was then taking place, winning the volunteer job of being chair of the Weber County Republican Party.
Following county party bylaws, Wilcox had to resign his chairmanship when he filed for the District 7 election. The county party’s central committee is now doing a multi-day, online vote to replace him.
Protzman, who is now retired and says his job is “puttering around the house,” was a member of the Democratic “Young Turks” who came into the House in the 1986 election, which saw Democrats pick up more than 10 seats in a surprise showing.
Over the years, most of those folks either retired or were beaten, as the Democratic minority in the House shrunk and shrunk.
Protzman became a member of House minority leadership before trying to win a Senate seat in 1996 -- losing that race.
Ultimately, all the legislative Democrats from Weber County lost or retired -- as the once-strong labor movement in and around the railroad town of Ogden dissipated. And the Weber County legislative delegation were all Republicans.
But Ogden started to become more Democratic recently, with now-Rep. Lawanna “Lou” Shurtliff, D-Ogden, winning her old House seat back in 2018.
Now Protzman will try to do the same thing.
One interesting sideline: In his last re-election, Wilcox faced Protzman’s wife, Linda, who ran and lost that House race.
And now it will be a different Protzman and the same Wilcox trying for the House District 7 seat, again.