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Political parties preparing for fight during spring caucuses

Christine Watkins
Edward Chavez

Sun Advocate reporter

The Democratic Party might be the dominate political organization on both local and national fronts, but a truth about being on top is that it must be defended, and Republicans are gearing up for the offensive.

In the next round of major elections in 2010, a majority of Utah's state and congressional positions will be contested, therefore local Democrats and Republicans are already preparing for their spring caucuses.

Carbon County has a Democratic majority making it one of the few counties in Utah with such leanings. Local Republicans would like to influence that slant, but first they plan to undergo some organizational changes.

Recently Carbon Republicans went about electing four new key leadership positions to their party. This, in addition to gaining a state Republican delegate, has given party leaders reason for optimism. The new positions include: Chair Karl Kranyc Jr., Vice Chair Henry Savage, Tresurer Jim Davis, Secretary Kasey Hopes and Carbon County state delegate Davin McFarlin.

Ideologically the party looks relatively consistent, but the local plan of action has changed slightly.

In the past county Republicans held their gatherings on a county wide basis, but now party leadership has decided that this approach has made it difficult for geographically isolated members to voice their concerns. A new system is being implemented that relies on smaller precinct level meetings that will make it easier for Republicans across the county to stay involved.

"It's difficult for people to travel with mass meetings," said Vice Chair Henry Savage. "We have a lot of members who want to participate that just don't know how, which is something we want to work on."

With about two thirds of Carbon County being non-Republican, the new leaders hope they can see some gains, but local Democrats are confident that they can hold steady despite being a minority within Utah as a whole.

"We have a strong hold in Carbon County with the unions," said Democratic chair Ed Chavez by phone.

Unlike the Republicans, county Democrats have organized on the precinct level for years, and have found it to be successful. State Representative Christine Watkins, who is also secretary for the local Democrats, believes precinct meetings make it possible for a variety of people to get involved and express their views to party leaders since candidates need be closely in touch with local issues.

On a state level, however, Utah Democrats are a minority, making up less than a third of the state legislature and although Carbon County typically goes against this trend, few other counties follow. Watkins expressed that she intends to hopefully influence this during the next caucus season.

"We need to keep our people informed," said Watkins. "We have a good presidency and good chairmen who represent all of our constituency."

Republicans, however, are also looking forward to the caucuses next year in hopes of additional county gains.

During the last election local Republicans were able to achieve higher voter numbers which qualified them for a state Republican delegate.

"The next round of elections will be very important." said Jim Davis treasurer for Carbon Republicans. "We need to educate people and get the info out so people will become more involved."

Education is a goal for both parties, because they believe that awareness equates to more people taking issues to heart.

General elections might not be until next year, but the stakes are high because many pressing local issues have become national ones that could affect Carbon County. putting both parties on the spot.

"The national Republican party is going through some changes, In my opinion we need to get back to our root ideals. (However) I really don't know where it's going to end up, but its definitely going to change," said Davis.

One thing that has Carbon Democrats concerned is that nearly every Democratic county seat in the next election will be contested.

"I don't like to see that," said Chavez. "I'm hoping we can stay the dominate party."

As for Carbon Republicans, their recent increase in voters has left them with a variety of theories as to the cause, but overall they want to keep growing and further their influence.

"We want to get more visibly known and get our representatives elected." concluded Savage.

If you have any comments on this story or any others, feel free to share them with the county on the Sun Advocate's forums located at

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