- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - With half of Utah’s state Senate and the entire House up for election this year, Democrats are hoping to break out of their stronghold in Salt Lake County and win at least one seat elsewhere in the state.

Two years ago, Utah Democrats lost their last seat outside of Salt Lake County when Republicans won the rural legislative district in central eastern Utah.

Utah Democratic Party chairman Peter Corroon said he thinks his party has a chance next Tuesday to win legislative seats covering Carbon, Emery and Weber Counties.

“It’s critical for Democrats to win a seat outside of Salt Lake County. We don’t want to be known as the Salt Lake Democratic Party,” Corroon told The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1rwgXfE ). “We want to be known as the Utah Democratic Party.”

Voters will cast votes in 89 legislative races on Nov. 4, but only about a dozen of those are considered competitive.

James Evans, the chairman of the Utah Republican Party, won’t say whether the GOP expects close races or gains.

“All of our seats are our targeted seats,” he said. “So we are pouring everything into every seat.”

Republicans already make up more than 80 percent of each chamber in the Legislature. In the Senate, 24 members are Republicans while only five are Democrats. In the House, Republicans have 61 representatives while Democrats have 14.

One of the seats Democrats hope to turn is House District 69, which covers Carbon and Emery Counties and was held by Democrats until two years ago.

Former lawmaker Brad King, a Democrat from Price, is running this year against Bill Labrum, a Republican and car dealer from Roosevelt who defeated an incumbent for his party’s nomination.

Labrum said that as a member of the majority party, he’s more likely to get something done in the Legislature. King is promoting his past legislative experience, including efforts to improve local highways.

Corroon said Democrats also have their sights on three Weber County races: House Districts 7, 9 and 10.

Republican incumbents are all running to hold on in those districts, but Corroon said Democrats are competitive there.

Another race that’s expected to be close is House District 54, which is split between GOP-leaning Wasatch County and Summit County, where Democrats have an edge.

Heber City Republican Rep. Kraig Powell is trying to fend off a challenge from Democrat Glenn Wright of Park City. Wright unsuccessfully ran for the Statehouse in 2010 and has held posts with the Summit County Democratic Party.

Despite the handful of close contests, both parties can rest easy in 12 races where candidates are running unopposed.

Two of those are Democrats and 10 others are Republicans.

In three other races, the only opponents for Republicans are candidates from third parties.

___

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com


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