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Well, Jim was in.
State Sen. Jim Dabakis ended his campaign for Salt Lake City mayor Wednesday, just 10 days after he launched it. He's now throwing his support behind Jackie Biskupski, a friend who has been in the race since January.
He made the move after looking at polling data indicating he and Biskupski share the same voter base and may knock each other out of the contest, which also includes Mayor Ralph Becker, who is seeking a third term, and City Council Chairman Luke Garrott.
Dabakis and Biskupski met at a Salt Lake City coffee shop Wednesday afternoon, but ran into people who know them. They then retreated to the New Yorker restaurant, where they could have a private conversation.
Biskupski never considered backing out.
"I said, 'There are two ways we can cut this pie.' She wasn't having any of that," Dabakis said. "Jackie is really persuasive. She is going to be a good mayor."
Dabakis and Biskupski announced their agreement on Facebook, where Dabakis said it didn't make sense to have two similar candidates fighting for "votes, dollars and volunteers."
That is exactly what Biskupski warned him about before Dabakis announced his candidacy April 6. The two are leading voices in Utah's gay community, and they have been friends since the mid-1990s. Biskupski was the first openly gay member of the Legislature. She now works for Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. Dabakis is now the only openly gay member of the Legislature.
Dabakis said his brief mayoral run is a bit embarrassing.
"I've learned as circumstances change, as things change, just do the right thing, even if you feel a little embarrassed."
Dabakis used Facebook to offer an explanation for why he didn't put more thought into the impacts of his candidacy before he announced.
"Truth is, sometimes one doesn't see the beach clearly until one gets into the water," he said. "I have a strong conviction that this city needs new energy, vision and enthusiasm and that Jackie is the one who can best provide that."
Dabakis had hired a campaign manager, but his push really hasn't gotten off the ground.
In contrast, Biskupski is in the thick of fundraising, has a campaign team and has yard signs already staked in supporters' lawns. She said Dabakis' endorsement will give her some momentum.
"We talked about this race at length. We have been talking about it for quite some time. What I said to him is, 'Look, I've been looking at this race for several years, and I'm very committed to serving.' ... I had no desire to drop out. I just never did," she said. "Jim's endorsement of me speaks volumes of his desire to really make sure we have new leadership in City Hall."
She noted that Dabakis previously backed Becker. He appeared at an event on behalf of the mayor as recently as March. And before that, Dabakis had publicly flirted with the idea of a mayoral run.
He didn't get serious about challenging the incumbent until after the legislative session. He was angered by a backroom deal at the Legislature involving the effort to move the state prison out of Draper. One of the five potential sites is land west of Salt Lake City International Airport.
Becker had met with legislative leaders and told them that he wants the ability to raise the city's sales-tax rate to help offset the costs of the daily influx of commuters and tourists, but that he opposes the prison move. In reaction, those leaders quietly slipped a provision into legislation that would allow whatever city gets the new prison to raise its sales-tax rate.
The Legislature approved the bill on the last night of the session. Dabakis voted against that bill but wasn't aware of the potential tax increase until the next day. He appeared at a news conference March 16 organized by Biskupski to criticize Becker for his involvement.
After that news conference, Dabakis, who is one of Utah's most outspoken and gregarious politicians, started considering his own mayoral campaign.
He formally entered the race April 6, questioning whether the other challengers Biskupski or Garrott could raise the money necessary to defeat Becker. Dabakis said Biskupski convinced him that she could raise the necessary money. As for his own campaign, he said he would return all of his campaign contributions.
Dabakis says the reason he's backing Biskupski over Becker is a matter of leadership style.
He says the mayor now makes decisions within a small group of advisers and then tries to sell the idea to the public.
As examples, he talked about the controversial bicycle lanes on 300 South and the location of the police headquarters. He said Biskupski would be more inclusive.
Matt Lyon, Becker's campaign strategist, said Dabakis' withdrawal doesn't change the mayor's campaign strategy, noting that Becker has positive approval ratings.
"Jim is Jim," said Lyon, who was the state Democratic Party executive director when Dabakis was the party chairman. "I think any opponent is going to have a hard time challenging us. I'm not sure it changes our campaign a whole lot."
Dabakis will continue to serve as a state senator, where he said he'll fight to keep the prison out of Salt Lake City and radioactive waste out of the state.