Democratic state Senator Jim Dabakis will debate Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson Tuesday afternoon, even though Dabakis has no plans to run for governor.
The debate between Jim Dabakis and Jonathan Johnson will be the first of four debates between the two. Johnson says he’s been unsuccessfully asking Governor Gary Herbert to debate for months.
“I think I have a pretty good sense of what issues Utahns care about and I want to let them know where I stand on those issues," Johnson says. "And if the governor won’t sit down or stand up with me for a debate I welcome the chance to be in a discussion with Sen. Dabakis.”
Johnson says he thinks it’s important to debate his intraparty competition now, because even though the general election is far away, the neighborhood caucus meetings are scheduled for March.
Meanwhile, the Utah Democratic Party doesn’t even have any announced candidates. And while Dabakis says he’s not planning on running for the spot, he says he’ll take any opportunity he can to talk about democratic principles.
“I don’t care about the internal political machinations of the Republican Party," Dabakis says. "To hell with them. My message, my job, is to get the facts out that say Utah Democrats have the solution.”
As for Governor Herbert, a spokesman for his campaign says that he is currently focused on doing his job as Governor, and will debate when it is the appropriate time. And that won’t be until at least the beginning of 2016.