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Utah Democrats fight for abortion rights and against extremism

A card taped on a brick wall says, "Vote blue."
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Tom Williams: We bring on Now Ben Anderson, communications director for Utah Democratic Party. Ben Anderson, thanks for joining us.

Ben Anderson: Thank you.

Tom Williams: So it's Tom Williams along with Damon Cann, USU political science professor, let me just ask you an open-ended question. What are you hoping to see tonight? What's got you excited?

Ben Anderson: Yeah, I mean, Democrats across the state have been fired up and working hard over the last few months. And we're proud of what we've accomplished. So we're excited to see the results come in. And I think we're gonna see some good results across the state.

Tom Williams: Are you looking at national results as well?

Ben Anderson: Yeah, I mean, we've been watching those come in over the last few hours, and definitely a mixed bag, but it doesn't look like it's going to be a red wave at all. So that's a good sign for us.

Tom Williams: What are the issues you think that are resonating with Utahns? Right now with this election?

Ben Anderson: I mean, obviously, one of the big issues since June has been the issue of abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and Utah's trigger law went into effect. It's being held right now by an injunction. But I've talked to a lot of people who were not happy about the legislature using their power to implement that bill. And who feel that that's not their place. Also, a lot of people concerned about high cost of housing. And really wanting to stop extremism, which we've seen a frightening rise in Republican extremism over the last few years. And a lot of people are interested in stopping that. So those are some of the biggest issues that I've heard from people.

Tom Williams: Damon Cann’s with me, he has a question for you.

Damon Cann: You know, the Democratic Party in Utah took this remarkable step of choosing not to endorse a candidate in the Senate race. And I wonder just what your thoughts are about that party's choice, as you are looking at election night and have the election to look back on. Do you think that was the right decision to make? And could you foresee the party doing something like that again? Or maybe less so?

Ben Anderson: Yeah, ultimately, that decision was made by the delegates who are the highest governing body of the party. And so they're the ones who get to make the decisions about nominations. And they were convinced by the argument that a two-person race in the U.S. Senate would be more competitive and give us a chance of defeating Mike Lee. We'll see how that pans out as the results start coming out here shortly. But I think that's where the majority of the delegates were at, and I think most Democrats have come to agree with that position, even if they were originally on the side of nominating a candidate.

Tom Williams: You referenced extremism. If you hear comments from Democrats nationwide, they'll talk about abortion. But they'll also talk about, some of them say, ‘Well, democracy itself is on the ballot right now and will be for the next few years.’ I don't know if you've seen any of that at all in Utah.

Ben Anderson: Absolutely. We have a lot of candidates on the ballot who are election-deniers. Especially here in Salt Lake County, the Republican nominee for county clerk has denied the election, claiming the Democrats cheated and stole it from Trump and other wild conspiracy theories. It's not just that race, either. There's a lot of Republicans across the state who are promoting these conspiracy theories and lies. And I think that is something that Utahns are not on board with, and they would like to see that kind of extremism defeated.

Tom Williams: Well, we'll be looking at the results. I'm sure you will be as well. Ben Anderson, the communications director of Utah Democratic Party has joined us, thank you so much.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.