LDS Democrats working to boost their numbers

Jun 23 2013 - 11:40pm

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OGDEN -- They are true to their faith, love their country and families and don't side with the majority party in the Beehive State.

Latter-day Saints who are Democrats are the largest single caucus within the state party, and if organizers have their way, this is only the beginning. The LDS Democrats caucus currently has 2,400 members and hopes to reach 3,000 by August.

Formed three years ago, the organization used the state convention on Saturday at the Eccles Conference Center as a training platform for how to grow their organization and to reaffirm they don't have to be outsiders in the faith as a result.

Surveys show 70 percent of the active voters in Utah are LDS and 40 percent of those voters register as unaffiliated voters. However, the same survey suggests a Democrat has to prove he or she is worthy of a vote, while a GOP candidate has to be proven unworthy, before voters will choose another option. A Republican is assumed to meet the worthy criteria, the findings show.

"We do not attempt to deviate from LDS doctrine ever, ever. We do not deviate from that. We are the LDS Dems caucus. Families are important to us," said Elizabeth Roberts, LDS outreach director for the state Democratic Party.

Roberts trained caucus members in the keywords vital to reach out to Utah voters. She said most Democratic positions are appealing to Mormons, if the position is not packaged under the Democratic banner.

"LDS voters lean towards Democratic platforms when the D is not identified," Robert said.

Roberts said two issues traditionally known to draw out conservatives -- gay marriage and immigration -- are not as solidly GOP issues among LDS members as may appear. She described the church's position on immigration as very progressive.

State Democratic Chairman Jim Dabakis, a former Mormon, blasted the idea all LDS members are conservative. He said the idea all members are part of a Glenn Beck monolith is bad for them and the church.

"You're doing the Lord's work and the party's work," Dabakis told caucus members.

Steve Olsen, of Ogden, who is vice chairman of the caucus, said the Tea Party doesn't represent all Mormons.

"Good LDS people think the Tea Party reflects our values. Our LDS people are too good, too kind to let them sit idly by and think that," Olsen said.

Besides growing their numbers, the group also hopes to raise $40,000 to buy billboard space during the coming election cycle.

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