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Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Merchant is resigning from his position amid personal health reasons.
In a statement, Merchant said his resignation is effective Sept. 29.
“While today I humbly offer my resignation in order to attend to my personal health, the work that must be done in our state and across our nation to protect our most vulnerable communities will continue on,” Merchant said in a news release.
Party Vice Chair Diane Lewis will now serve as the party’s acting chair until the state central committee picks Merchant’s replacement.
“Diane is a storied leader in our state’s labor movement and Democratic Party, and I believe that under Diane’s leadership, our party will continue to build on the gains that we have made in 2020,” Merchant said. “I’m excited for this new chapter for the party and will remain a staunch supporter of our mission and our organizing.”
Utah Republican Party Chairman Carson Jorgensen was shocked by the news of Merchant’s resignation.
“I’ve spoken with him a few times,” Jorgensen said in a phone call. “He seemed like a nice guy, and I wish him well. I hope he’ll be okay because good health is always important.”
Derek Brown, Jorgensen’s predecessor as head of the Utah GOP, was surprised by the news.
“Although Jeff and I frequently disagreed on policies, he and I quickly became good friends during our service to our respective parties, appearing together in the media and even teaching college classes together,” Brown said. “He served during an incredibly difficult period of time, and left his part better than he found it.”
Utah Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant resignshttps://t.co/FSYeTAijMW
— Martin Walsh (@RealWalsh_) September 28, 2021
Last week, Democrat State Rep. Aaron Lieberman announced that he’s resigning from the Arizona Legislature to focus on his run to become the state’s next governor.
Lieberman is seeking the Democratic nomination in the general election that will determine GOP Gov. Doug Ducey’s successor in 2022.
Prior to that, Democratic Arizona state Sen. Kirsten Engel resigned from the Legislature to focus on her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District race could arguably be one of the most important races in the 2022 midterm elections.
The race will be pivotal to the Democratic Party’s efforts to retain the U.S. House majority and could even spill over into the U.S. Senate races.
Republicans are now “the early favorites” to retake control of the U.S. House in the midterms.
Cook Political Report Senior Editor David Wasserman told NBC News that Republicans are poised to retake the lower chamber for a variety of reasons.
“Based on all factors, you’d have to consider Republicans the early favorites for the House majority in 2022,” Wasserman said.
“But as we found out in 2020, surprises can happen, and it’s not a done deal,” he added. “Democrats’ best hope is that Biden’s approval rating stays above 50% and that Republicans have a tougher time turning out their voters without Trump on the ballot.”
Last month, a top House Democrat warned that the Republican Party is in a prime position to take back House in next year’s midterm elections.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick, who serves as a congressman from New York, says Democrats would lose their House majority if the midterms were held today.
Democrats are facing serious headwinds going into next year.
Three-quarters of senior Capitol Hill aides think Republicans are going to win back control of the House of Representatives in the 2021 midterm elections.
Punchbowl News surveyed several senior Capitol Hill aides and reported that a whopping 73 percent think Republicans will take the speaker’s gavel from Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi next November.
Republicans need a net gain of 5 seats to regain the House majority in the midterms next November.