Democratic county convention draws near; Sanders takes 29 delegates

ST. GEORGE – Democratic gubernatorial candidates competing for their party’s nomination, as well as a congressional candidate hoping to unseat the Republican incumbent, will be in southern Utah Saturday for the Washington County Democratic Party’s county convention.

Vaughn Cook, former chair of the Utah County Democratic Party, and businessman Mike Weinholtz will be at the convention to share their message and compete for support among party delegates.

(L-R) Chuck Goode, Democratic contender for Utah House District 71, and Mike Weinholtz, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, at a breakfast gathering of the Washington County Democratic Party at George's Corner, St. George, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
(L-R) Chuck Goode, Democratic contender for Utah House District 71, and Mike Weinholtz, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, at a breakfast gathering of the Washington County Democratic Party at George’s Corner, St. George, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Also attending will be congressional candidate Charlene Albarran, who is challenging Republican Rep. Chris Stewart.

Local candidates Chuck Goode and Dorothy Engelman, running for House District 71 and Senate District 29 respectively, will also be at the convention. Goode, a retired NASA engineer, is challenging incumbent Rep. Brad Last, while Engelman, a former chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, is challenging Rep. Don Ipson and Republican newcomer Richard Jenkins for Senate District 29.

Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart, who currently represents Senate District 29, said earlier this year he wasn’t seeking reelection.

In the wake of last week’s massive turnout to the county caucus – over 2,100 people attended the Democratic caucuses in Washington County – it is anticipated a similar showing will manifest at the county convention Saturday at the Tonaquint Intermediate School in St. George at 2 p.m.

The levels of participation and diversity seen at the county caucus and across the state last week has been called unprecedented by party officials. There was also a large presence of younger caucus-goers this year that was noticed by older party members.

Washington County Democrats gather at Tonaquint Intermediate School to cast their ballots in a presidential caucus, St. George, Utah, March 22, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Washington County Democrats gather at Tonaquint Intermediate School to cast their ballots in a presidential caucus, St. George, Utah, March 22, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“Young people are very interested,” Goode said, and credited the influx of younger blood into the party with the growing popularity of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Among the Washington County Democrats, 1,509 caucus votes went to Sanders while 660 went to fellow candidate Hillary Clinton in the March 22 presidential caucus. In Iron County, Sanders led Clinton 639 to 142.

The Utah Democratic Party announced Wednesday that Sanders won the state’s presidential caucus with 77.19 percent of the vote over Clinton who garnered 19.8 percent, according to Fox 13 News. The Utah Democrats reported that 81,606 votes were cast statewide.

With the votes, Sanders walks away with 29 of Utah’s Democrat presidential delegates. Clinton receives eight.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks at a campaign rally in Seattle, March 20, 2016 | AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, St. George News
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks at a campaign rally in Seattle, March 20, 2016 | AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, St. George News

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders, especially among young people,” Engelman said, joking she was showing her age when she considers younger individuals to be those around 30 years old and younger.

Thanks to the heightened interests in local and presidential races, both Goode and Engelman said it has been reinvigorating the county party. A new Democrat club is even starting to spring up at Dixie State University, they said.

“The Democrat Party is broadening its base,” Engelman said.

While only members of the county party can vote in convention, Engelman said is it open to anyone – Republicans, Independents and whomever – to attend. She encourages anyone who may be tired of the political status quo in the state to come and listen to the gubernatorial candidates and others and consider an alternative voice.

During the convention each candidate will address attendees and delegates slated to attend the state convention that will run April 22-23 in Salt Lake City.

Convention details

Washington County

  • Time: Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m.
  • Place: Tonaquint Intermediate School, 1210 W. Curly Hollow Drive, St. George
  • Admission: Open to all, though only party members may vote for delegates

Iron County

  • Time: Saturday, April 2, at 5 p.m.
  • Place: 1865 N. Main St., Cedar City
  • Admission: Open to all, though only party members may vote for delegates

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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