Demos select candidates, while state weighs delay for primary election date
Last Friday night, the Carbon County Democratic Party selected their candidates for the primary election scheduled for June 25.
The convention was conducted at the Helper auditorium and most party leaders said they had the best crowd they have seen in many years.
After the voting, the field was reduced from three candidates for each of the two open seats to a pair of opponents.
Vying for the seat presently occupied by William Krompel were John Serfustini and Dave Guymon. After the vote it was decided that Serfustini would face incumbent Krompel in the primary.
In the contest for the other commission seat, incumbent Tom Matthews will face Steve Burge after the vote on Friday night by delegates elected from each of the voting precincts in the county. Eliminated from the race in that vote was Ralph Hardman.
But the question of when the primary will actually take place, may actually depend on some moves presently being made at the state level by Governor Mike Leavitt.
Leavitt asked legislative leaders late last week to consider the advantages and disadvantages of moving Utah's primary election to late summer or fall to accommodate a potential fourth congressional seat the state may received because of a case pending in the supreme court.
The move was motivated by a review prepared by Lt. Governor Olene Walker, Chief Elections Officer for the state, outlining the pros and cons of three proposed primary dates.
Utah faces an uncertain congressional election process because of a pending United States Supreme Court decision regarding reapportionment following the 2000 Census. The state has challenged the method used by the U.S. Census Bureau. If the highest court rules in Utah's favor the state could be awarded a fourth congressional seat just prior to or after the now scheduled June 25th primary.
Leavitt has called this scenario "a problem we would love to have," but also realizes the potential cost and fairness issues it creates.
"If discussion in caucuses leads to a request for a special session, I am prepared to call one to resolve this issue," Leavitt said in a letter to house and senate leadership. Resolution to the issue is a legislative decision because any change would require adjustments in state election law.
Both Leavitt and Walker agree there is value in postponing the primary until September 2002. Their recommendation was based on a desire to spare taxpayers the cost of potentially funding two primaries and creating a reasonable and fair playing field for prospective candidates.
The chances of the seat being awarded vary, depending on whom one asks.
Congressman Jim Matheson, in Carbon County on Friday for the Democratic Convention said he felt it could come down any one of three ways.
"First they could just tell us that the Census was done properly and the seat belongs to North Carolina," he said. "Second they could say the seat does belong to Utah."
If the justices do that, Matheson expects dozens of challenges to the census on the same basis from other states, possibly causing a log jam of litigation.
Finally, the justices could question the way the census was conducted, but the most recent one stand and change future counting procedures
If Utah gets the seat, it will affect all current congressman in the state, including Matheson.
If re-elected under the present set up, Matheson will go from having an urban district to a predominately rural district that encompasses 60 percent of the state, including all of eastern Utah.