“It’s time,” he says, “to move on.”

Senator Mike DmitrichSenate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich will not seek re-election in 2008. This year, he will celebrate his 72nd birthday, having served the majority of his lifetime in the Utah Legislature. “It’s time,” he says, “to move on.” Senator Dmitrich was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1968 at the age of 31 and has served continuously in the House and Senate for 40 years, honorably representing Utah’s citizens in eastern and southern Utah.

In 1991, while serving in the House, he was appointed to the Utah State Senate and then elected to the Senate in 1992. Since 2001, he has served as the Senate Minority Leader. While in the House, he also served as House Minority Leader from 1983 to 1990. Throughout his political career, he has been a resounding voice for public and higher education and for the health and economic stability of Utah’s families. Backed by 30 years of experience in the coal mining industry, he has served on many natural resources committees and provided invaluable expertise to the state. This past year, he served on the governor’s Utah Mine Safety Commission following the mining accident at the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Senator Dmitrich and his wife Bo reside in Price USA (as he calls it). They are parents of three and grandparents of three. Senator Dmitrich is looking forward to spending more time with his family and more time (you guessed it) playing the wonderful game of golf.

Senator Dmitrich remarked, “I would like to thank the constituents of the districts I have represented over the years for allowing me the privilege of serving them in the Utah Legislature. I also appreciate the friendships I have formed on both sides of the aisle during my legislative career.”

She’s Doing It!

Karen MayneSenator Karen Mayne was featured today in The Salt Lake Tribune in an article entitled, “Karen Mayne tries to carry on for beloved late husband as conscience of the Senate.”

Well, she’s not just “trying.” She’s doing it. Senator Mayne knows the process and cares about her constituents–just like her late husband, Senator Ed Mayne. She hardly needs coaching at all.

She has already surveyed her district and held a standing-room-only town meeting last weekend, attended by over 100 people. Senator Mayne has defined her priorities and is ably filling the shoes of her husband, Senator Ed Mayne.

The Passing of President Hinckley

President Hinckley was not only a great spritual leader but was a great leader for the entire nation. His sincerity and compassion toward people are unsurpassed by any of our national leaders.

My family and I offer our sincere condolences to the family of President Hinckley and to all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

The Ugly Side of Faith in America

by Senator Scott McCoy
District Two

Senator Scott McCoyRecently Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney took the stage to discuss Faith in America. It was a risky move for him unfortunately precipitated by the ironclad grip that the conservative evangelical rightwing has on the Republican Party. The fallout from the speech and the heightened attention to Governor Romney’s Mormon faith has begun. I was shocked and deeply saddened to listen to the anti-Mormon tirade that spewed forth from political pundit Lawrence O’Donnell on this past Sunday’s episode of The McLaughlin Group. The panel was discussing Governor Romney’s Faith in America speech and the ongoing controversy surrounding his Mormon faith. O’Donnell accused the Mormon faith of being “racist” and “ridiculous” and said the faith is “based on the work of a lying, fradulent, criminal named Joseph Smith.” I was gravely disappointed by this episode and the constant attention to faith and religion in the presidential race.

An individual’s faith (or lack thereof) is a personal affair, not a public issue open to debate in a political campaign. When faith is made a public issue, it becomes open to the very public debate (and prejudice) that we saw on The McLaughlin Group and that we see in the Republican presidential primary. Making faith a public political issue pits different faith groups against each other and drags belief into the oftentimes dirty and low arena of politics. It potentially demeans and degrades religious belief and subjects it to majoritarian rule. Making faith a public and political issue de facto creates religious tests. This was exactly what the Founding Fathers attempted to avoid in outlawing explicit religious tests and seeking to maintain a wall of separation between public affairs and religious institutions. It is as much for the protection of religion as it is for the protection of the people and government. In politics, there are winners and losers. In faith, there should be no winners or losers.

In America, we need religious pluralism and a separation of Church and State and religion and politics. The troubles that Governor Romney now faces based on his religious beliefs stem from the fact that Republican primary voters (mostly evangelicals) demand that Republican presidential candidates publicly and loudly confess their religious beliefs so that those beliefs can be measured against the approved brand of Christian doctrine. A candidate’s failure to wear his religious beliefs on his sleeve risks political isolation and rejection. Unfortunately, the Republican “big tent” has become a revival tent. Governor Romney decided to play this game by making his Faith in America speech. By doing so, he has handed the evangelical extremists and his fellow presidential candidates a can of worms and a can opener. Governor Romney can hardly make faith and religion a public issue and then play the victim and refuse to answer the questions that are begged and engage in the very public debate that he started. If (or when) Governor Romney is rejected by Republican primary voters because of his Mormon faith, then religious pluralism will be truly and openly dead in the Republican Party, and anyone from an unacceptable faith should beware.

If Mitt Romney were running as a Democrat, I don’t think his Mormon faith would be an issue. Democratic voters believe in religious pluralism and impose no religious tests on their candidates. Our track record proves as much. The highest elected Democrat in the country at the moment is a Mormon named Harry Reid. We had a Jewish vice-presidential candidate in Joe Lieberman (He didn’t have to make a “Faith in America” speech). We have the first-ever Muslim member of Congress. In the Utah House, we have a Buddhist. Democrats likely want their candidates to have faith, but past that, which faith is not important. For Democrats, in the world of politics, good positions on issues and public policy trump piety.

So, to my Mormon friends, neighbors and countrymen, I say “You have seen the ugly side of faith in America yet again and you deserve better. In the Democratic Party, you would receive better.”

Change in Leadership

The Utah Senate Democrat caucus met today and made changes in the leadership team (necessitated by the recent passing of Senator Ed Mayne). Senator Pat Jones was made Assistant Senate Minority Whip (replacing Senator Ed Mayne) and Senator Brent Goodfellow was elected Senate Minority Caucus Manager (replacing Senator Pat Jones).

We thank Senator Jones and Senator Goodfellow for their willingness to serve on the leadership team in their new capacities, and we look forward to working with them.

Senator Mayne’s Funeral Services

Below is information about funeral services for Senator Ed Mayne who passed away yesterday. The public is welcome. Please call the Utah State Senate at 801-538-1035 if you have questions. (The “Roast and Toast” banquet for Senator Mayne scheduled for December 4th is still on.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
6:00-8:00 p.m.
2261 South Redwood Road
Salt Lake City

Thursday, November 29, 2007
6:00-8:00 p.m.
State Capitol Complex, West Building, First Floor
Salt Lake City

Friday, November 30, 2007
11:00 a.m.
1355 West 3100 South
West Valley City

End of an Era – The Passing of Senator Ed Mayne

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

Earlier this year
, we reported that Senator Ed Mayne, Assistant Senate Minority Whip, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Senator Mayne passed away yesterday morning (Sunday, November 25, 2007) at the age of 62, while serving in his fourth Senate term. We express our sincere condolences to his wife Karen, his children and grandchildren, his parents, and all members of his family.

Senator Ed MayneHis passing marks the end of the Ed Mayne Era in the Utah Legislature. He fought the good fight for Utah communities his entire life, and in the past several months, he has concurrently fought his own personal battle against a formidable opponent–cancer. We are so sorry the disease has prevailed.

It has been a privilege and honor to serve with Senator Ed Mayne, advocate of working families in both his profession and his public service. He led and inspired all who knew him. Ed was passionate and compassionate, a loyal friend, and a fierce contender, right to the very end. The void created by his passing will never be filled.

“Ed was a champion,” Senator Gene Davis, Senate Minority Whip, remarked. “When Ed spoke, he spoke for and to the working men and women of Utah. He stood up for families be it a working wage, health care, education, or seniors. Senator Mayne championed the common person.”

2002 Olympic Torch Carrier Sen. Ed MayneSenator Ed Mayne’s legacy dictates that we, the Utah Senate Democrats, attempt to continue to carry Ed’s Olympic Torch on behalf of the men, women, and children who reside in the great state of Utah.

Thank you, Paul Rolly, for your endearing tribute to Senator Mayne. Click here to read the article. Click here and then click on the link “View a collection of photos here” to view an outstanding slide show/photo album of Senator Mayne assembled by his son Paul.