Shea ends House bid
March 25, 2006
Olympic skeleton champion Jim Shea Jr. ended his campaign for the Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday, acknowledging that he did not meet the residency requirements to be a candidate.
Shea, a Republican from Park City, withdrew after Democrats objected to his candidacy. It was found that Shea voted in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2003, where his father lives. Utah election laws require that a candidate live in the state for three consecutive years before filing for the state House.
"Of course I was disappointed. I have to play by the rules. It is what it is," Shea said, noting that he is "just shy" of meeting the requirement.
Shea had been seeking the GOP’s nomination for the District 53 seat in the House, which stretches over parts of Rich, Morgan, Summit, Wasatch and Daggett counties. Mel Brown, a Republican from Hoytsville, was challenging Shea for the party’s nomination and, it seems, has secured the nod with Shea’s campaign ended.
Awaiting the Republican candidate are Laura Bonham, a Democrat, and Libertarian Gary Shumway. The District 53 seat is expected to be hotly contested with the popular incumbent, Republican David Ure from Kamas, seeking a spot in the state Senate instead of running for re-election.
The Park Record was unable to contact Brown.
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Shea said he intended to campaign on a platform of boosting the economy, education and smart growth. He said he is unsure if he will endorse another candidate.
Shea said he plans to run for the District 53 seat again in 2008, the next time state House elections are held.
"A fresh voice. They’re a little stagnant on the hill," Shea said about what he would bring to the Legislature.
He also claims that the Democrats were worried that he would win in 2006, prompting them to investigate his voting background.
"They thought I was going to win," he said. "They got scared, so they got technical."
Rob Weyher, the chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, said Shea’s decision is "the honorable thing."
"I commend him for that. He did the right thing," Weyher said, adding that he would like Shea to seek office again and that Shea is a role model.
Weyher on Monday challenged Shea’s candidacy with Summit County Clerk Sue Follett, charging in a one-page letter that the Republican had voted in Lake Placid. Election officials in Essex County, N.Y., where Lake Placid is located, confirmed Shea’s 2003 vote there.
Shea’s decision leaves Weyher confident in his party’s chances in District 53. He predicts a Bonham victory on Election Day, claiming that Brown will lose partly because of an ethics scandal he was involved in during a previous tenure in the House.
"Laura will win because Mel Brown is not electable because he has a sordid past," Weyher said, adding that, if Shea had won the GOP nomination, the campaign between him and Bonham would have been close.
If Bonham wins, Weyher said, she will bring a new perspective to the House.
"We’re going to pick up House seat 53 with a woman, a liberal woman. We need to counteract all the conservative men in the Legislature," he said.
Bonham, meanwhile, said it is "a shame" that Shea was forced out, calling him a fine person. She distanced her campaign from the residency controversy, saying that the county’s Democratic Party launched a probe into Shea’s voting history.
She said she has a good chance against the Republican nominee, whether it was Shea or Brown. Bonham said the campaign against Brown will be tough.
"I don’t perceive this as a cakewalk at all," she said. "Mel Brown is an experienced political person."