LAYTON -- Like their GOP counterparts in counties around the state, Davis County Republicans gathered at various locations Tuesday night to hash out the official beginnings of the 2010 election season.
But unlike anywhere in Utah, the caucus climate in the Layton High School meeting for state legislative District 16 had its own tenor, its own agenda and its own small dark cloud to dispel.
Scandal will do that for any district, said Dale Peterson, the caucus captain for the night.
"They said this was an off year for politics," he joked with the crowd as they began the meeting.
The scandal was the sudden resignation on March 13 of former Utah House member Kevin Garn, who admitted to sitting naked in a hot tub 25 years ago with a 15-year-old girl.
"It was disappointing," Peterson said about the scandal involving the former majority leader from this district.
But if people were discouraged about recent events, they didn't turn away from the process.
Party leaders said the meeting's attendance was double what it was two years ago, as hundreds of people lined the school auditorium and later moved to smaller group meetings.
Attendees also argued that anger with President Obama's Democratic administration, the recent vote on national health care reform and the states' rights movement might have fueled an increased interest in the process.
"I am not thrilled with what is going on in Washington," said Stacey Moyle, a Layton mother attending the meeting with her daughter.
The local Republicans came from 20 precincts to make their choices of delegates to the county and state conventions.
"We are looking to the future, not the past," said Wade Farraway, vice chairman for the Davis County Republican Party.
Democrats had their caucuses Tuesday night as well.
A fire alarm at the high school interrupted the meeting, but the caucus went on in another part of the building as crews handled a minor gas leak.
GOP members in Davis County met in 11 locations.
Candidates for public office typically hope to gain enough supporters at the caucuses to get elected to be among the party's more than 3,000 statewide delegates.
From here, it is on to a county meeting, the state convention and seven months to the final vote.