The chairman of the Utah Democratic party is stepping down from the position he’s held for nearly three years.
Jim Dabakis says he’s resigning to deal with an undisclosed medical condition. But he says the move also frees him to be a stronger advocate for progressive causes.
“As a party chair, I often felt constrained about what I would say,” Dabakis explains, “and what I could say not wanting to hold candidates from the rural parts of the state to a flaming progressive agenda.”
As the deadline looms, several candidates filed to run for the congressional seat in Utah’s second district this week including the Republican incumbent and the potential Democratic front-runner.
On Wednesday morning, Republican Congressman Chris Stewart met with reporters at the state Capitol as he filed his paperwork to run for re-election. The incumbent won his seat in the 2012 election with more than 60 percent of the vote and he’s confident he’ll post similar numbers when voters turn out in November.
It’s been three months since Governor Gary Herbert appointed Sean Reyes to fill the vacancy left by John Swallow in the Attorney General’s office, and today Reyes officially filed to run to keep the spot for the remainder of Swallow’s term.
Reyes says he wants to keep his position so he can continue implementing changes aimed at improving the public’s eroding trust in the Attorney General’s office in the aftermath of the John Swallow scandals. He says he’s already seeing results and he’d like to continue what he’s started.
Democrat Charles Stormont has filed to run in the special election to replace former Attorney General John Swallow.
Charles Stormont has worked as an attorney in the Utah Attorney General’s office for the past 6 years. He says the Swallow scandal and the effects it had on the office is one of the main reasons he decided to run.
UPDATE: Additional candidates who have filed for the 4th Congressional District include Bill Peterson (DEM), Bob Fuehr (REP), and Jim Vein (LIB).
The race for Utah Congressman Jim Matheson’s seat is on. Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens both filed Monday to represent the 4th District. Love narrowly lost to Matheson in the last election, and claims to be a better candidate than she was in 2012. But Owens insists he could still pull off a win.
State Republican and Democratic Party Caucuses are this week. People will gather in neighborhoods across Utah to discuss candidates and issues and to elect their neighborhood delegate. Tuesday is the Democratic Party Caucus. Republicans meet on Thursday. Anna Thompson is the Communications Director for the Democratic Party. She says this is the smallest organizing unit in any election, so it’s very important for everyone to become involved.
As the 2014 session of the Utah Legislature comes to a close we're putting together an ongoing list of the best sights, sounds, stories, and tweets from the last day. Be sure to check back frequently to see the lastest.
It’s the last day of Utah’s general legislative session. State senators and representatives will be working ‘till midnight to get as many bills passed as they can.
Whether it’s the chime that tells members of the House it’s time to vote, or state Senate clerk Paula Tew calling the roll, the final day of the legislative session is filled with vote after vote after vote. Inevitably, there are many bills that won’t pass. And there are issues that won’t be addressed in this session.
Members of the House Special Investigative Committee of former Attorney General John Swallow presented their final report to the full body of the Utah House of Representatives Wednesday. The presentation on the House floor marked the conclusion of the nearly 9 month long investigation into Swallow.
The normal place to find Utah political chatter on Twitter is #utpol, but on Tuesday morning the hashtag InternPickUpLines exploded with humor and wit perfect for the last few days of the Utah legislature. Here is a selection of the very best.
The House Committee investigating former Attorney General John Swallow pushed back the release of their final report Friday. It is now scheduled for public release some time next week. Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, says he delayed the release to be able to include information they only recently recovered from a crashed hard drive in one of Swallow’s personal computers.
Utah’s unemployment rate dropped below four percent in February for the first time since 2008.
Governor Gary Herbert was beaming as he went before the TV cameras this morning to say Utah’s unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent, compared to a national rate of 6.7 percent. The statewide rate of job growth is at 2.8 percent.
Women top the leadership of both parties in Utah’s House of Representatives. But that’s going to change next year. Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake, announced she’s stepping down as leader of the House Democrats. Like House Speaker Becky Lockhart, Seelig is the first woman in Utah’s history to hold her post. She says serving in the Legislature has been an education in juggling and she’s ready to focus once again on her personal goals.
Members of the House Government Operations Committee voted this morning to advance a newly-minted compromise between legislators and organizers of the Count My Vote ballot initiative. But several members of the committee say they won’t support the bill when it reaches the House Floor.
Leaders of the Count My Vote ballot initiative appeared with legislative leaders at a rare Sunday news conference to announce a compromise on the effort to replace Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating political candidates.
The deal preserves the caucus system, but it also allows candidates to get on a primary election ballot by gathering voter signatures on a petition – from one thousand for a legislative seat to 28-thousand for a statewide office such as governor.
Final revenue projections for the legislative session show the state will have a little more money in the coming year. For some legislators, though, the numbers were a disappointment.
Budget co-chair Lyle Hillyard announced the new revenue estimates on the floor of the state Senate Friday morning. One-time revenue – only available in this budget year – was up by 11-million dollars over earlier projections. Ongoing revenue is expected to rise by 47-million dollars. That will give the state a surplus just under 200-million dollars out of a total budget of about 13-billion.
The Utah House has passed a bill that would allow voters to keep their personal information private. That information is currently available from voter registration records that have been posted online.
Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, supports a bill that would allow voters to choose whether they want their personal details from state election records to be public. Last year, a web site bought personal information for 1.5 million Utah voters and posted it on the web. Hutchings says that kind of data is fodder for thieves like the ones who stole his identity.
Organizers of The Count My Vote Initiative can now add Mitt Romney to their group of supporters. If passed, the proposal would move Utah to a direct primary election system. But a bill moving through the legislature could keep the current caucus system intact.
Mitt Romney has endorsed the Count My Vote initiative in Utah, but Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3) said Monday he is opposed to changing the state’s nomination process from a caucus-convention system to direct primaries. In his annual address to the state legislature, Chaffetz told lawmakers he could never have beat incumbent Chris Cannon without the caucus system. He said he didn’t have big name ID, and he didn’t have big money, but he did spend time talking with delegates.
Utah’s 1st District Congressman is hoping he can claim a key committee chairmanship that would give Utah a significant advantage in Congress. That was one of the messages Republican Rob Bishop brought to the Utah legislature today.
Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson addressed members of the Utah House and Senate on Thursday. For now, it is the lawmaker’s last visit to the Capitol as a member of the state congressional delegation.
Congressman Matheson began his speech in the Utah House describing a political atmosphere in Washington, DC that is so partisan that un ending gridlock is the status quo. He says voters are fed up a congress that can’t get work together.
A bill that would exempt political parties from any outcome of the Count My Vote initiative passed another hurdle Thursday as the Utah Senate gave SB54 preliminary approval.
SB 54’s sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, says the bill is the ultimate compromise between the political parties that want to keep the current caucus/convention system and the members of the Count My Vote initiative that want to move toward direct primaries.
Officials with Google announced Wednesday that Salt Lake City is on a list of nine cities where the company wants to expand its ultra-high speed network called Fiber. It would be the same system that residents of Provo are now signing up for. Michael Slinger is the director of business operations for Google. He says the announcement only marks the beginning of a six to nine month process.