With over 3000 people in attendance the 2006 Utah State Democratic Convention was exciting and grand. Due to the fact that we only had one race go to primary at convention, and because of the conservative/republican stronghold on the press, we received very little coverage. However, this fact cannot take away from the fact that Utah would be best served by hiring Pete Ashdown for the United States Senate, Steve Olsen for Utah's 1st District, Congressman Jim Matheson for the 2nd, and Christian Burridge for the 3rd.
Some of you may remember the post the day I witnessed the filing of Pete, Steve, and Christian where I exclaimed,
As I was driving up Victory Road I started to get goose bumps. I have driven this road hundreds of times through out my life, but never has the word "Victory" meant more or grabbed me so whole heartily as it did at this moment. It was also at this moment that the number 4 came into my thoughts. I will explain this one later.For me, the number four (4) represents the best direction for Utah. It doesn't matter if your a die-hard member of the Republican, Democrat, Green, libertarian, constitution Party, or a Utah independent, our four candidates are by far the best. Let me state this again, we have asked for your qualifications, we have listened, and we have found those who qualify. The big key is two words, listened and qualified.
When I arrived I was surprised to see the the lines for registration so packed. A few people were anxious, but the air was full of optimism, not negativity. I helped a few delegates find their way, and then decided to visit as many caucus meetings as possible. My first stop was the Hispanic Caucus. They were electing their new state leaders and I wanted to see how it was going. The room was filling up fast so I said a few hellos, signed up to speak, and left to sign up to speak at a few other caucuses.
I spoke to the Stonewall Caucus, and then I fumbled a bit at the Educator's Caucus. I think what I was trying to say was that although I did not receive their endorsement last year, it was my intention to give them my complete support. I also tried to explain my goal to bring a majority of educators back to the Democratic Party and to build our base so that they would no longer have to suck up to one party rule and beg for scraps. That was my message, but my phone was vibrating and it threw me off message just a bit.
I hurried out and answered the call from Paul Price who explained that I was being asked to return to the Hispanic Caucus. When I arrived I was asked to be an observer and officiate the passing out and collection of the ballots. As a candidate I new that I should be speaking to as many caucus groups as possible, but I am first an foremost the vice chair of the State Party, and I was honored by their request, and did as they asked. After collecting and counting the ballots, Tony Yapias was elected chair, and Robert Gallegos was elected vice chair of media. At that point I was allowed to speak and asked if Paul could officiate from there on.
I hurried to the Labor Caucus which was full of candidates. As I waited Remington Johnson, chair of the Young Democrats told me I could speak to his group. I challenged the YD's to increase their numbers and to reach out to other counties. I also thanked them for all the work they do. Our Party could not survive without their work, and that is just a fact.
I returned to the Labor Caucus and was introduced by my friend, Senator Ed Mayne. I expressed my gratitude for their support, quickly made some remarks and ended as I began, hugging the beautiful Ed Mayne. As I left the room I received a call from Chair Wayne Holland who asked, "where are you?" I'll be right there.
State Secretary M. Xavier Hemosillo brought the crowd to order. Democrat Bob Roberts gave the opening invocation. Then Chair Wayne Holland welcomed the 3000 plus delegates and attendees and gave a terrific speech. After Wayne I spoke on optimism, how Governor Cal Rampton had inspired my conversation with my father that introduced me to the Democratic philosophy, and reminded everyone in attendance of our long history of ethical and responsible leadership in Utah. I started my welcome by taking the photo at the beginning of this very long post.
Our first candidate to speak was Congressman Jim Matheson who was nominated by a Republican whose brother was killed in Iraq. Her story of his service and sacrifice brought many in the room to tears, including me, and I was touched by her story of how a Democratic congressman, who isn't even in her district, was the only one who helped her family through the bureaucracy.
After Jim's acceptance of his nomination we listened to Steve Olsen, and Christian Burridge who both proved that they have what it takes to serve in Washington D.C. Steve explained his problem solving abilities, and a desire to use the best ideas regardless of whose party they come from. Christian excited the crowd with a speech I will post very soon.
When our next United States Senator from Utah arrived he came to the stage accompanied by the music from Peter and the Wolf. He reminded us that Peter caught the wolf, and as art imitates life, his speech was the proof that his last year of campaigning has turned our Bountiful native into a United States Senator. David Veit, a delegate who has recently been converted called me late Sunday to explain how excited he is that Pete Ashdown is the "real deal!" He also expressed that he was wrong about the Democratic Party, and that he was proud to now be completely converted.
The Rest of the Day
I spent the rest of convention in the House 25 caucus room where delegates voted for to send Josh Ewing and Christine Johnson to a primary at the end of June. This will be the only contested race within the Democratic Party, and a difficult decision when you have two great candidates.
Overall I am pleased with the convention. Wayne and I want to thank all those who participated as delegates and observers, the many volunteers that made it happen, all of the candidates who have sacrificed more than most people will ever know, and Craig Axford, and our staff who put the convention together. The truth is this report cannot express how inspiring and wonderful the 2006 convention was, you just had to be there! See you next year!
AND NOW ON TO VICTORY!