Utah Democrats on Saturday elected Jim Dabakis as state party chairman. He is the first openly gay man to lead a major party in the state.

At the party's state convention, held at the Hilton in downtown Salt Lake City, delegates overwhelmingly voted in Dabakis, who beat his challenger, Robert Comstock, by 528 to 71 votes.

Delegates also narrowly elected Brian Doughty, who is also openly gay, to fill the House seat recently vacated by Jackie Biskupski. Biskupski was the House's only openly gay member.

“I am excited that the LGBT community will have a voice again on the Hill because I've seen what a difference it makes to have someone on the floor who can articulate a personal message on some of the issues that arise, and that is really important, especially during this critical civil-rights time for the LGBT community,” Biskupski told the Salt Lake Tribune after Doughty's win.

In his first interviews with the media, Dabakis, who is a co-founder of the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah, the state's largest gay rights advocate, reached out to independents, Republicans and Mormons (the Latter-day Saints).

“I want to talk to LDS people and I want to tell them that we want them in our party, we need them in our party,” said Dabakis. “We recognize that they have a great deal to contribute. … As chair, my commitment is to make sure that LDS people feel comfortable in our Democratic tent. Sometimes, we haven't been as warm and as inviting as we should be.”