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A group of Bernie Sanders' supporters wants to bring his "political revolution" to Utah's Legislature, signing up to run for office and even challenging a few sitting Democrats who support Hillary Clinton.
The United Progressive Coalition is trying to harness Sanders' overwhelming support in Utah he got nearly 80 percent of the caucus vote to help a slate of nine local candidates; in doing so, they've caused some consternation in the state's liberal establishment.
"I don't understand the motives they have in challenging Democrats who fight so hard for their seats and have kept the seats from Republicans for many years," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, who met with Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, during a campaign stop. "To me, that is irrelevant, who I'm supporting for president, or it should be. What does it have to do with state government?"
Her Democratic opponent, Aubrey Lucas, said she respects Moss, called her a "great representative" and believes "she is well loved in my community," but she suggested the incumbent's 16 years in office has been long enough.
"Why not be able to offer a fresh voice?" said Lucas, 34, who works for Intermountain Healthcare in information technology.
This is one of three intraparty showdowns pitting volunteers of the Utah for Bernie Sanders campaign against sitting lawmakers.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, faces Darin Mann, a boxing coach and founder of the progressive coalition while nurse Alexis Hall has challenged Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Millcreek.
Two other Sanders supporters have withdrawn their challenges to sitting Democrats, including Corey Thomas, who signed up to face Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray; she has since said she supports Wheatley.
Six other progressive coalition members are running against Republicans, such as state Sen. Brian Shiozawa in Cottonwood Heights and Rep. LaVar Christensen in Draper.
All of these candidates have taken a pledge not to accept any corporate campaign contributions and have pegged their campaigns to Sanders' message, particularly campaign-finance reform, a move to clean energy and low-cost or free college education.
The coalition will help provide volunteers and offer campaign support.
"We do have a voice," Lucas said. "We can try and help move this state to the left."
Moss, a retired public school teacher, argues that Sanders' supporters might be young activists, but she called herself an "old progressive," and then jokingly noted: "I'm younger than Bernie, just for the record." Sanders is 74.
"The truth is we probably agree on just about everything," Moss said, "just not tactics."
The incumbent and her challenger will face off in a convention, where one of them will either win the party's nomination outright or be forced into a primary.
Chavez-Houck said she was "extremely surprised" when she learned that Mann signed up to run against her. She has never seen him at community events, and the first time they met was Tuesday, during the caucus meeting.
"I understand the passion with which they are approaching these issues, because they are the same I have been fighting for for many years," she said, pointing to her efforts to help recent immigrants and her pro-abortion-rights stance.
Mann said: "I have nothing against my opponent; I actually respect my opponent greatly."
But he does have some issues with the Utah Democratic Party.
He said the coalition's goal is to "reconnect the Democratic Party with its constituents," and as proof of that need, he pointed to the big caucus turnout, which included 20,000 new voters.
"I want to help grow the Democratic Party through this progressive movement that is on the rise," said Mann, 27. He argued that the Legislature needs some younger members and said he supports term limits, believing Chavez-Houck's eight years in office has been enough.
Chavez-Houck has indicated her intent to collect signatures to ensure her place on a primary ballot.
Most of the party's leaders have endorsed Clinton, though Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, is the one who drew the big crowds in Utah and the bulk of the support.
He held a rally at This Is the Place Heritage Park that drew 14,000 people.
The Utah Democratic Party usually helps incumbents, but it stays neutral in contested races. Party Chairman Peter Corroon welcomed the Sanders volunteers who want to run for office.
"To change the issues, you have to change the politics," he said. "If they want to get in and make some changes, we welcome them with open arms."