However, Jason, posting at KVNU, led me to this from the Tooele Transcript Bulletin:
Gowans, the most popular and well-known state legislator in Tooele County, a man who has campaigned and won re-election to the House every two years for the better part of two decades, narrowly defeated his Republican challenger Dan Egelund by a margin of 3 percent of the vote. That photo finish seems all the more improbable when you consider Gowan’s war chest was more than eight times as large as Egelund’s, this was Egelund’s first run at any political office, and Egelund ran a fairly low-key campaign during which he often praised Gowan’s leadership.
This race proved it’s becoming almost impossible for a Democrat to win elected office in Tooele County. In fact, no Democrat in the other three legislative races covering the county got more than a quarter of the total vote. And the Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate as an alternative to incumbent County Commissioner Colleen Johnson — whose Constitution Party challenger, by the way, got a higher percentage of the vote than any Democrat except Gowans.
Local Democrats anemic showing was especially pronounced in light of the fact that the national party claimed the presidency and gains in both houses of Congress, and Utah as a whole voted less red than in 2004.
In the past, the local party has thrown up its hands, claiming an influx of young Republican families has diluted its base in the county. But that excuse ignores the fact that the party itself often appears weak and disorganized. Not being able to field a candidate for county commission is shameful, and many of the candidates that did turn up for the party in other races were markedly below the level of their Republican opposition in background, experience, funds raised and enthusiasm for campaigning. To make matters worse, the party’s senior leadership doesn’t seem to offer those brave souls who do carry its banner much in the way of campaign advice, fund-raising aid or general promotion.
A second problem is that nobody seems to know what local Democrats stand for. That wasn’t true 30 years ago, when they were the party of the working man — civilian employees at Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground, tradesmen and builders, cops and firefighters, farmers and ranchers. How many of those people would consider themselves Democrats now? And where’s the opposition message? Where are the traditional Democrats who are willing to oppose foreign nuclear waste, put the breaks on rampant development and urban sprawl, stick up for working families, and fight for quality-of-life issues along with economic development?