Democrats fail to file for house seat
Democrats have coveted Utah House District 53 for years yet have never been able to get enough support to oust long-time incumbent Mel Brown. However, as the November election filing period closed on March 9, no Democratic candidate filed to run for the seat, saying after last year’s redistricting, it was fruitless.
District 53 was redrawn in November due to the U.S. Census population statistics which require states to redistrict every 10 years. The district no longer includes Park City, instead it encompasses Rich County, the majority of Morgan County, parts of Duchesne and Daggett county, the eastern side of Summit County and portions of the Snyderville Basin.
According to Glenn Wright, Chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, the Redistricting Committee Brown sat on created a "bullet-proof district" so he could be re-elected.
"We tried to recruit people to run in that district but no one wanted to run against Mel with odds so much in his favor," Wright said. "District 53 favored Republicans before but now it would be almost impossible for a Democrat to be elected."
Wright said that two years ago he tried to find someone from the East Side to run against Brown but when no one volunteered, he stepped forward to be the Democratic candidate.
"I took one for the party but no one was willing to do that this year," he said. "Trying is worthwhile because then at least you get to present the other side of the issues. But it is expensive and takes a lot of time so I understand why no one volunteered to run against a candidate that seems unbeatable."
Coalville resident Laura Bonham ran as a Democrat for House District 53 in 2004 and 2006 and as a Green Party candidate in 2002 said the race was hard for Democrats even when the district encompassed more of Summit County.
"So much for equal representation. They completely cut the Democratic base out of the district," Bonham said. "No Democrat is running because only a Republican will be able to get elected. There are no competing interests in that district anymore and for a Democrat from Summit County to campaign in it they would have to travel all over."
Brown (R-Coalville) is running for his ninth term in the House and told The Park Record that he isn’t surprised the Democrats failed to find a candidate.
"This has happened once before, and while I cannot speak for the Democrats, I feel like I have done a decent job," Brown said. "Unless someone thought I was doing a poor job or had an interest in challenging me and changing things why would they file."
Brown added that while there is another Republican candidate running for the seat, John Zimmerman, not having another party on the ticket will shorten election season and make things easier.
If one of the Republican candidates gets more than 60 percent of the delegates’ votes at the State Convention on April 21, there will be no Republican primary for the seat. Utah law does require the candidate to appear on the November General Election ballot to accommodate write-ins.
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