Howard Dean visit designed to jump start voter registrations

Aug 20 2013 - 12:05am

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Former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean jokes with the crowd at a rally in Ogden on Monday. 

(BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean jokes with the crowd at a rally in Ogden on Monday. 

(BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- If area Democrats take the advice Howard Dean offered them Monday night, they will be visiting with their LDS neighbors about politics.

Dean, a former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, was touted as the biggest political name to visit Weber County since former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. His visit to the MTC Learning Park was designed to correspond with a Weber County Democratic Party effort to register voters and organize precincts.

"There are no substitutions for personal introductions between human beings, especially people you know," he said. "Talk to your Republican neighbors, your LDS neighbors. Start now. Establish a relationship if you don't already have one."

It is the goal of the Utah Democratic Party to register 40,000 voters between now and November.

It is the goal of the Weber County Democratic Party to register more than a fourth of that number.

Dean said that with enthusiasm and hard work, Weber County Democrats will be able to meet their goal, and their efforts will pay off.

"Some day, Utah is going to be a blue state again, it is," he said.

Statistics show, Dean said, that two-thirds of those the Democratic workers register will vote Democratic.

And Dean said the statistics about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sound a lot like the Democratic Party, so people ought to be able to establish a common ground.

"They take good care of those who have fallen behind," he said of welfare programs.

"Thousands of people donate time to make sure this operation works right," he said of the church structure in general.

He said the way to keep democracy strong in the United States is to work together.

"Republicans are not the enemy," he said. "They are making a lot of mistakes, but they are not the enemy."

He said Democrats could establish common ground even with members of the Tea Party, if they limit their conversation to the power politicians have taken away from ordinary people.

Dean also said voting district boundaries within the state are not good.

"All we need is a fair shot," he said, and mentioned other states that don't allow elected officials to set such boundaries. "In Iowa, voters get a fair break, and we need one too."

Those who were in attendance at Dean's speech Monday said they believed his appearance would make a difference.

Ben Pales, of West Haven, is the Weber County Democratic Party chairman.

"This will get people excited about going door to door and getting people registered," he said.

Pales said the goal of the party is to change an attitude sometimes found among area Democrats that they can't make a difference.

Pales said Dean, the author of the 50-state solution, was practicing what he preached by coming to Utah.

"It is really exciting," said Turner Bitton, who is running for city council in Ogden and who is vice chairman of the party in Weber County.

"We think we are a county on the cusp of change. Up until 2008, we had a fairly purple county," Bitton said, referring to the mix of Republican and Democratic voters. "We think we are on a swing back."

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