As Utah Republicans start their 2019 county conventions, it is important to make wise decisions about who will represent you on State Central Committee, the governing body of the Utah Republican Party. This is especially important given the problems of the last couple of years. Now that the US Supreme Court has declined to hear the SB54 lawsuit, what direction will the party take?
Here are six key points to consider as county delegates evaluate candidates for the GOP’s State Central Committee (or SCC):
The SCC rarely has roll call votes (a vote that records how each member votes). During caucus night every candidate in my precinct committed to record their vote on a precinct Facebook page and then did so. Which candidates for the SCC would commit to recording all of their votes? Which wouldn’t? Would they support rule changes that require more votes be recorded and made public?
There has also been an issue with the liberal use of executive session, which allows the discussion to be taken off the record and behind closed doors. In other words, it becomes a completely secret conversation. Would the candidate vote for or against this?
There has been a lot of really awful behavior from some members of the committee, including witch hunts against our party officers. Instead of helping and supporting the party, some SCC members have focused their efforts on fault finding. You should ask yourself: How would this candidate act? Have they signed the civility pledge that the party vice-chair, Kera Birkeland, created? Are they committed to building unity? And what will they do to do that? What does civility mean to them?
Emergency meetings are a great way to pass unpopular changes. You organize your team and give minimal notice to the rest of the group. Your supporters are much more likely to show up, especially when you do it right before Christmas. It’s disingenuous, unfair, and it builds mistrust within the party.
And yet, this is what happened at the end of 2017 and then again early 2018. Some who called the meeting explained that they had been misled as to the purpose. They were told it was all about caucus night and then less than 15 minutes were spent on discussing the caucus. Ask yourself: how would the candidate use emergency meetings?
What about other procedural abuses?
When the SCC recently decided to censure the chair, there was no due process and no opportunity for him to defend and explain his actions. The party secretary, who claimed that her signature had been forged, was even part of the investigation. All this over the chair refusing to break the law and start a new lawsuit against the state. The cabal even had a test candidate, Mary Burkett, ready to gather signatures and then get kicked out of the party.
Don’t forget that the Republican Party constitution calls on us to follow the law.
When I tried to call or email SCC members, I realized that many of them list phone numbers with the party that they don’t use and email addresses set up just for this. Despite calling many members and leaving messages, only a few answered or even bothered to call back. The question you should ask is: How would this person represent the party? Would they get back to their constituents, the delegates and Republican Party members? Are they representing their own views or those of the people they represent?
We had numerous questionable votes in the past few years as a result of not realizing there was a huge debt due to the lawsuit. We sold control of the lawsuit to a single donor, purposefully tried to break the law, start another lawsuit, and potentially disqualify every Republican running for office. How would this candidate vote on these kinds of issues?
Does the candidate have other hobbies or is politics all they have? If their role on the SCC was threatened, how would they behave? Those who are the most deeply invested have the most to lose and can be dangerous if threatened. They tend to be the most protective of their power and control and the least able to let go of it.
Maybe you should run
We need more candidates who are willing to follow these traits. You may want to consider running as well.