Democratic chair insists he won’t resign
July 19, 2006
Embattled Summit County Democratic Party chairman Rob Weyher insists the party is focused on getting Democrats elected in November.
But party faithful aren’t convinced.
Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott asked Weyher to resign Monday during a meeting of the County Democratic Party Central Committee, Summit County Democratic Party Secretary Laura Bonham said.
"If Rob resigned right now, we’d have nobody running the party," Bonham said.
Weyher has hinted at running against Elliott for a seat on the County Commission in 2008.
Weyher’s recent antics, which include misdemeanor charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer and driving drunk, have been divisive and have made it difficult for Democrats running for office in Summit County to criticize their opponents’ ethical foibles, said former Democratic Summit County Commissioner Patrick Cone, a member of the Central Committee.
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"I was pleased at the meeting this morning, but there is still a very fundamental issue about support of Democratic candidates that has to be resolved," Park City Democrat Mike Andrews said.
Weyher’s critics say money he has given to high-profile Republicans, like U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and President George W. Bush, shows the construction magnate is willing to cross party lines for financial gain.
Weyher nearly sabotaged Democrat Christine Johnson’s bid to represent Snyderville Basin voters in the state House of Representatives when he offered money to her opponent in the June 27 primary to withdraw from the race, Andrews claimed.
Weyher faces a class B misdemeanor in Salt Lake County Justice Court for allegedly offering to cover Democrat Josh Ewing’s campaign expenses if he withdrew from the race against Johnson for the seat in House District 25.
Weyher has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
A $250 contribution reportedly made by Weyher to a political action committee attempting to defeat a ballot initiative in November could have also ended up in the coffers of a Republican.
Weyher admitted to giving the money to South Summit resident Mike Marty, a member of a committee called Less is Best, which is pushing to defeat a proposal in November that would change the form of government in Summit County.
On behalf of Less is Best, Marty says he has contributed money to the campaign of Woodland Republican Bill Miles, who is running against incumbent Democratic Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer in November.
The controversial contributions have prompted Cone and Andrews to call for Weyher to resign as Democratic chairman.
"I don’t plan to resign," responded Weyher during a telephone interview Monday. "I’m not out to fracture the party, I’m here to be cohesive."
Democrats pledged during Monday’s committee meeting to no longer disparage each other in the media, Andrews said.
"Democrats over the years have always had a tendency to line up in a circle and shoot at each other," he said. "We’re trying not to do that."
Meanwhile, Weyher says he is confident that Democrats who want to represent Summit County can pick up seats in the state Senate and House of Representatives on Election Day.
"The Republicans haven’t done a very good job of either running the national or state government," he said.
Bonham is poised to defeat North Summit Republican Mel Brown and Snyderville Libertarian Gary Shumway in the race to replace Kamas Republican David Ure in State House District 53, Weyher said.
He also backs Roosevelt Democrat Roland Uresk in the race against Vernal Republican Kevin Van Tassell to replace state Sen. Bev Evans, R-Altamont, in Senate District 26.
"To elect all the Democrats on the ballot, that’s what I’m gearing up for," Weyher said.
Bonham insists Democrats should debate weightier matters than "who the chair of the Summit County Democrats is."
"I think a lot of it’s been overstated. Whether it’s the Republican Party or it’s the Democratic Party, people are flawed, people make mistakes," she said. "Steps are being taken to try to get everybody calmed down and focusing again."