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Sen. Bernie Sanders Rallies Dems In Salt Lake, Promising More Outreach To Red States

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Sen. Sanders speaks at The Rail Center in Salt Lake on Friday, April 21.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez held a rally Friday in Salt Lake City, as they seek to reunify the party.

Perez took advantage of the news this week that Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz wasn’t running for re-election, invoking his name frequently to the pleasure of the crowd of several thousand.

“They were writing the obituary for the Affordable Care Act, and now they’re writing the obituary for Jason Chaffetz,” he said as the crowd cheered.

Most of those in attendance at the Rail Center were ardent supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who overwhelmingly won the state’s caucus last year.

Perez and Sanders are on stop six of their eight-state “Come Together and Fight Back” tour as they seek to rebuild a fractured Democratic party.

Sanders said red states like Utah can no longer be ignored if Democrats hope to take back either the House, the Senate or the White House.

“From now on in, the Democratic Party will be a party of 50 states, and that most certainly includes the beautiful state of Utah” he said.

Perez has a tough road to climb to bring members of the more progressive caucus into the party fold. He received some boos from the crowd as he walked on stage, similar to previous stops on their tour.

Skeptics like Jaymie Beck, a retail clerk in Salt Lake, said the DNC lost a lot of faith during the primary.

“I’m still pissed at the DNC because I think they support Wall Street way too much,” she said.

But during a gaggle with reporters before the rally, Perez said he’s committed to supporting the Utah Democratic Party with both money and more frequent visits. This was his second visit to Utah this year.

“Not sure you’ve seen someone from the Democratic National Committee in your community twice in eight weeks,” he said.

Perez said the DNC’s stops in red and purple states is meant to show that the Democratic party is here to stay and here to win.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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