In an email to Salt Lake County delegates over the weekend, Republican Greg Hawkins accused his opponent for the Republican nomination for Salt Lake County Auditor, Scott Tingley, of being a Democrat for most of his adult life.
Then, in a strange twist, Tingley admitted it.
According to Hawkins, Tingley is a long-time Democrat and supporter of Democratic candidate for the same office, Jeff Hatch, and has only entered the race to weaken Hawkins for Hatch.
As of March 14, 2014, my opponent, Scott Tingley, in this Republican Convention Contest was a registered democrat. He had been a registered democrat for over two decades before filing as a Republican candidate. He changed his party status from democrat to Republican right before he filed as a candidate. As late as March 14, 2014, he openly endorsed one of the democratic candidates for County Auditor — Jeff Hatch.
Tingley fired off his own email within a couple of days. He admitted that he had registered as a Republican in time to run. In pertinent part:
I went online and officially registered as a Republican on February 25, 2014, because I wanted to be sure that I could attend my neighborhood caucus meeting on March 20, 2014. Yes, I have been a registered Democrat in the past. However, for more than 20 years of active voting, I have always considered myself unaffiliated.
It’s hard to argue with that, though I don’t know that considering oneself unaffiliated is an appealing characteristic to Republican delegates. For better or for worse, we humans tend to be tribal, and Tingley just admitted that he was new to the tribe, and then perhaps only by convenience.
On the other hand, Hawkins is not running for reelection without some angst among delegates. His term in office has not gone unmarred by scandal or negative comment. As Tingley has been more than willing to point out–thoroughly–Hawkins has not always found the press happy with him.
There is a concern among some Republican delegates, as well, that Hawkins may see himself as entitled to keep his position and is unwilling to show up to court delegate votes. His inability to get along with the Mayor and others in county government has given some pause, as well, though we should recognize that it is an auditor’s job to double-check the executive’s numbers, not kow-tow.
In any event, it sets up the stage for an odd choice. On one hand is a candidate who was until mid-March of this year Democrat. On the other is a candidate who may be less appealing to Republicans because of a lack of diplomacy. With less than ten days until the Salt Lake County Convention, it appears to be unappealing set of selections between which Republican county delegates must choose.
Previously posted at Publius Online.
- Bennion faces a conflict of interest in his advocacy for the FOP (publiusonline.com)
- Buzz: Salt Lake County GOP chair and treasurer resign (utahpoliticohub.com)