CACHE COUNTY – The year 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America and the battle of the sexes continues in political races here in northern Utah.
The local Democratic Party has produced a stylish video highlighting its slate of female candidates in state legislative and gubernatorial races.
“Vote for women!” the video proclaims.
By contrast, the Republican candidates in those same races are almost exclusively male.
The only notable exception to that male/female divide is in the statewide gubernatorial race, where Karina Brown of Nibley faces state Sen. Deidre Henderson (R-Spanish Fork) for the office of lieutenant governor.
The video also features Utah State University professor Nancy Huntly of River Heights, who is running against Logan businessman Chris Wilson in State Senate District 25; community volunteer Holly Gunther of North Logan, who is competing with businessman Mike Petersen in House District 3; registered nurse Mary DaSilva, who is running against incumbent State Rep. Dan Johnson in State House District 4; and Coast Guard veteran Lauren Abell, who is competing with incumbent State Rep. Casey Snider in State House District 5.
With tongues in cheek, the candidates dispel the myth that there are no Democrats in Cache Valley by introducing themselves and discussing issues they consider important in the upcoming general election. Those priorities include public education, health care, election reform and protection of public lands and the environment.
The historic significance of the year 2020 notwithstanding, the potential political impact of an appeal by female candidates to Utah voters is difficult to predict.
Women have a strong history of engagement in Utah politics. Back in 1870, Utah was the first state where women were allowed to vote under an equal suffrage law. Utah was also the first state to elect a female state senator.
In the general election that put Bill Clinton in the White House in 1992, Utah women voted in record numbers, leading the nation with a 76 percent turnout. But female voter turnout in Utah steadily declined over the following decade and by 2006 was dead last in the nation, trailing all 49 other states and the District of Columbia.
Fueled by the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, female voter turnout in Utah jumped to 35th in the nation in 2016. According to the Utah Colleges Exit Poll that year, nearly 45 percent of those female voters cast their ballots because they felt that electing a woman as president would be a “very important” event in U.S. history.
While female voter turnout in Utah during the hotly contested midterm election of 2018 spiked to 11th in the nation, more than 300,000 eligible women had still not registered to vote as recently as January of 2020, according to Katharine Biele, past president of the Salt Lake City League of Women Voters.
The Cache Democrats’ video can be seen here: