The Summit County Democratic Party has opened a de facto political war room in Park City, possibly the first of its kind in the area, as campaigns on the local, state and federal level prepare for the final weeks before Election Day.
The Summit County Democrats have rented a storefront in a Bonanza Drive shopping plaza to serve as their campaign headquarters. The Democrats took over the space, approximately 1,000 square feet, in mid-August and have it under a rental contract until mid-November.
The windows are decorated with signs Democrats like Donna McAleer, who is the party's candidate in the 1st Congressional District, Senate hopeful Scott Howell and Peter Cooke, the gubernatorial candidate. Local candidates, including Summit County Councilors Chris Robinson and Claudia McMullin, are also represented with signs in the window. There are signs for President Obama's re-election efforts.
There are workstations set up inside for the campaigns, and on the walls are maps of the U.S. and Utah. Schedules for candidates canvassing Summit County and making campaign calls are also posted. There is space to hold meetings.
On a recent day the McAleer campaign was set up as it continued its underdog bid to unseat Rep. Rob Bishop, the Republican incumbent in a district that covers a wide swath of northern Utah. McAleer was on the premises as well as her campaign manager.
McAleer said she is spending approximately 20 percent of her campaign time at the location. Her staffers are also stationed there lots of the time. There is space for organizing meetings and to make campaign calls. Some supporters have stopped by to pick up yard signs, she said.
Two full-time McAleer campaign staffers, a part-time volunteer coordinator and a part-time event coordinator are using the space regularly.
"It's instrumental. It's truly instrumental," she said.
McAleer said she ran much of her campaign out of her house in Pinebrook early on but needed a different space as she gained momentum. The campaign organized a call bank out of the Bonanza Drive space recently on consecutive nights, and McAleer could be heard personally making calls on behalf of the campaign on a day earlier in September.
Obama supporters, meanwhile, anticipate using the space to make campaign calls at least once a week most weeks before Election Day. A posting on Obama's campaign website indicates the supporters will be calling people in Colorado from the Bonanza Drive setup.
The local Democrats are anticipating a strong showing on Election Day in one of the party's strongholds in the state. The Park City area is among the most reliably Democratic places in Utah, and the support typically is displayed up and down the ticket.
Glenn Wright, the chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, declined to discuss the cost of the rental. He said the location offers good visibility and was available for a short-term rental. Each of the campaigns is contributing to the cost. At least one campaign uses the space each day, he said.
He said the McAleer campaign is the heaviest user of the space. It is the first time the local Democrats have set up a location like the one on Bonanza Drive in the six years Wright has been involved with the party. There would have been less need for one in earlier election years since there has not been a locally based congressional or Senate candidate.
The people in the office use their own cell phones and are able to access the Internet through a connection supplied by the Democrats. There is also a printer available.
"It would have been a prohibitive cost for all the candidates to do it individually," Wright said.