One Party in Utah? Hardly.


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Many believe that Republicans dominate the state of Utah.  Well, that isn’t completely true.  Yes, every elected statewide official has an R behind their name, but that doesn’t mean we are a one party state.  Just look at the party.

Last Saturday at the Republican State Convention, the Count My Vote group (read Buy-my-Vote) wanted to change the Republican system.  This group is headed up by LaVarr Webb (big-money interest), Kirk Jowers (wanna-be candidate for something), former Republican Governor Mike Leavitt (Progressive), Dave Hansen (Former chair, Orrin Hatch and now Mia Love campaign manager), and touted on the air waves by Doug Wright (wanna-be candidate and Progressive).  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765630111/Why-moderates-lost-the-caucus-vote.html

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You see, there really are two parties in Utah, they just all exist under the name Republican.  It is true the Democrat Party is not getting a lot of traction in Utah, so that is not the other party I’m talking about.  However, there is the liberal, almost Democrat-wing of the Republican Party.  Then there is the Republican Party platform group, where most of the actual Republican Party resides.  The first group of Republicans are actually called Progressives.  Delegates, who represent the average Utah voter directly from a neighborhood meeting, would never elect them.  However, their name recognition, and their big special interest money could fool many in a primary.  They would never be elected with D behind their name, so here they are in the Republican Party.

Delegates may have aligned themselves from time to time with what they believed to be Republican values, and found out they were electing “progressive” Republicans.  When Utahns had finally had enough, the “secret” of the caucus was unveiled, and record attendance occurred.  Suddenly neighbors woke up and realized they did not have to wait for a primary, or the general election to “shape” the landscape in choosing candidates.  This is not about delegate power as many have professed, but about neighborhood responsibility.  As any delegate that has served will tell you, the system is different inside than it appears on the outside.  There is so much to learn about the candidates, and the real issues of the day.  The discussions are deep, and the integrity, honesty, and viability of a candidate are more easily accessed one on one, face to face.

candidateThe Count My Vote / Buy My Vote alternative is to rush things to a primary where people are elected on how many signs, billboards, radio and TV ads they can get out.  30-second sound bites, little catchy phrases, and worst of all some big name endorsement become the deciding factors in a primary.

Kirk Jowers calls our system antiquated.  While we can always do things to improve upon the system, these neighborhood meetings are vital to maintaining our Republic.  We are a Republic, after all, and NOT a Democracy, as is a common misconception.  He has compared himself to “George Washington” wanting to see delegates give up their power.  George must be rolling in his grave.  George Washington, along with all of the founding fathers recognized that the government closest to the people was the best.  How much closer can you get elections than a neighborhood meeting?

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Saying we are not allowing many to participate is not true.  Most people can plan to be there.  Someone will always have SOMETHING that may override their desire to be there.  Yes, there will be young men and women on missions, and in military service.  Their service is valuable to their church, and to our country.  Moreover, they have a vote in the primary and the general election as an absentee ballot when the election is for someone that will actually affect policy.  Their vote is counted for elected governing officials.  Nevertheless, because they cannot attend the meeting, they will not be able to be involved in the discussion; they will not yet know the candidates that are running.  If we open the door in these simple and wonderful meetings to corruption through proxy voting or absentee voting, it will ruin the entire purpose of meeting with your neighbors to discuss the direction YOUR neighborhood would like to see the party move.  The Republican Party is a private organization.  If Count (Buy) My Vote want to control the outcome, they should get elected in their neighborhoods, or start their own organization.

You have heard the accusation that more involvement is needed.  We have had record turnout at the neighborhood meetings for the last 4 years.   This is a red herring.  Turnout is not the real issue.  Control of the party is.  It is hard to control so many engaged neighbors who are electing someone to represent them, and study out the issues, and the candidates in depth.  It is much easier to control the masses with a primary.  The “old-guard” of the Republican Party is not happy with their results, so they want to change the game.  I would love to see more involved.  And I plan to continue to educate people so they can be more involved in the process.  But, apathy will continue until voters decide to not be apathetic.  Changing the system will not change apathy.

Last point, this has nothing to do with any “tea-party” or any other Washington DC group controlling Utah.  This is about Utah values.  This is about Utahns standing up for those values.  It’s about more Utahns reading the Republican Party platform and recognizing its absolute beauty, and then scratching their head and saying, “Why doesn’t my Republican representative stick to the platform?”  It’s about average Utah Republicans taking back control of their own party from the Progressives.

The system works, for incumbents and challengers alike.  The system produces good candidates.  That is why the Progressives want to change it.

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14 thoughts on “One Party in Utah? Hardly.

  1. To the defenders of Utah’s Caucus/Convention system, I ask, how can you defend a system where Dana and Carrie Dickson are given the power to decide who can and who cannot participate in a caucus, who can and who cannot run for a state delegate position, who can and cannot seek nomination to public office as a Republican, who can and cannot attend a convention even if only to observe the proceedings? Is this what you mean by private organization? One where there are no rules? Where the biggest and baddest rule by default? Where none dare to molest or make afraid the powers that be that rule with blood and horror? You speak of this system … as if it’s a GOOD thing. That’s like saying that arsenic is an important nutrient which contributes to the healthy development of muscles and bones. I find all defenses of this system to be utter nonsense. Tell me how I am wrong. Please.

  2. Ms. Smith, by your count, when was the last time where a Republican state convention in Utah seated only such delegates as were eligible under the rules to be seated? If your answer is not 2013, then can you please indicate what you personally have done – either this year or in years past – to see to it that conventions don’t devolve into gatherings which are, from the first moment when the chair gavels the attendees to order until the final moment when the delegates cast the vote to adjourn, illegitimate on their face? Did you attend this year’s Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention as a delegate? And if so, which of the three standards of eligibility found in Article XII of the Utah Republican Party Constitution would you point to as your legal basis for participation at the convention as a delegate? (So, how did I do? Was this post excessively inflammatory or attacking, by your reading?)

  3. The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate.

    Based on the state gop released stats since 2000 for state wide or congressional races, at 60%, threshold to avoid a primary, 1/2 of contested races went to primary. If at 2/3, 67% of contested races go to a primary and at 70%, 70% of the races go to primary.

    70% would not have helped Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

    Sen. Hatch just barely missed eliminating Dan Liljenquist by hitting just under the 60%, and Jason Chaffetz just missed eliminating Chris Cannon by hitting just under 60%.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.

  4. One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, was this: ” A system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous is not acceptable.”

    The problem is their proposals would do exactly that.

    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.

    There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections. Certainly the municipal elections didn’t do any better in voter representation.

    Bypassing the Caucus / Convention System will NOT create more participation. There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.

  5. If I post a comment, Ms. Smith, will you let it stand or will you silence me as you have in the past? I have much to say about what you have written as little to none of it (what you have written) is true or right.

    • If what you say Mr. Ridgeway is overly lengthy, I suggest you write your own blog. You want to do away with the caucus system, as is a well-known fact. I did not doubt you would disagree. If I find your comments excessively inflammatory or attacking, they will be removed.

  6. Basically, Pete, you’re saying you want the system changed for the same reason the progressive Republicans want it changed: you don’t like how the grass roots people vote, so you want to circumvent their choice.

  7. If by ‘the system works and elects good candidates’ you mean the tea-party extremists like Lee, Love and Chavetz, then you’ve just made the argument in favor of reform as far as I’m concerned. This country can’t afford more of the gridlock that has been in effect since the tea-party brought about their revolution in Washington.

    • The system works and elects Jon Huntsman Jr., Kraig Powell, Aaron Osmond,
      In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

      • So, Fred, you’re saying that the caucus/convention system is undemocratic AND it results in the election of severe moderates. And therefore, conservatives should fight with everything they have to keep it. Is that a fair paraphrase?

  8. Good article, Jackie. It’s true that the Republican Party is split into two factions here in Utah – the conservatives and the progressives. Thanks for pointing it out and your comments here will help the voters of Utah to recognize this.

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