Local party leaders react to weekend conventions

It made national headlines Saturday when three-term incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett was ousted by businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee who will face each other in the June 22nd primary election. The chairman of Cache County’s Republican Party was not surprised that Bennett did not come out first in voting. But David James says he was surprised that Bennett was ousted by two other candidates without even getting into a primary election.James says something surprised him even more and that was Bridgewater coming out first among U.S. Senate Republican candidates. All polls had shown that Mike Lee was the frontrunner among seven of Bennett’s challengers. James says he sees Bridgewater as a very savvy person.”He was very courteous after the first round of voting, congratulated the people that lost, said some very nice things about it,” James says. “They only had a minute each to speak. But he took the time to recognize them.I think that made a lot of the delegates, who had been supporting the candidates that had just been dropped off the ballot, feel a lot better towards him than they did towards the other candidates.”James says in his follow-up speech Bridgewater was complimentary to the other Republican candidates while both Lee and Bennett focused more on themselves and their accomplishments.The Chairman of Cache County’s Democratic Party was surprised when Bennett was ousted from his seat. Vince Wickar says he wonders what the Republican party is doing to itself when they have such a seasoned politician who is on major committees and has done so much for the state.Wickwar says, on the other hand, it could help Democratic Senate hopeful Sam Granato.”Sam has tried to position himself towards the middle of the Democratic Party where his views, I think, will be very acceptable to a number of moderate Republicans,” Wickwar says. “He would very much like to pick up moderate Republicans and independents.”Wickwar says Granato came through the Democratic Party convention with more than 77 percent of the delegate vote. Therefore, Granato will not have a primary election.Wickwar says there was a surprise at the Democratic State Convention, and that was when Second District Congressman Jim Matheson was forced into a primary by retired school teacher Claudia Wright.Wickwar says there was something that struck him as “different” at the party’s state convention on Saturday.”Very often you won’t see much of the candidates when you get to the convention,” Wickwar explains. “They’ll come in and do their speeches and then they’ll sort of disappear in the background. Not this time. “Every single candidate who was running was out there ready to greet every delegate that came in. They were just much more visible, much more accessible. It was a different atmosphere.” Wickwar says Utah Democrats have strongly endorsed Peter Corroon as their candidate for governor along with his runningmate Republican State Rep. Sheryl Allen. He says the two were nominated at the convention by Logan Municipal Councilmember Herm Olsen.

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