by John English

Tea Party favorite Chris Herrod pulled off the improbable and left the GOP special convention to be the official Republican nominee for Utah’s 3rd district (the fightin’ 3rd!) However due to SB54 and some signature-gathering there will be a Republican primary where Provo Mayor John Curtis and Danny’s son Tanner Ainge will also be on the ballot.

Going into the convention I thought it was going to be between Deidre Henderson and Margaret Dayton. Henderson had been a slight favorite from the last poll I saw, and Dayton’s campaign had stepped up their aggression against Henderson. Plus there were some anonymous supporters trying to demonize Henderson over delegate shenanigans.

This was supposed to be a shorter-than-usual convention because the delegation wouldn’t be giving speeches and we were only voting on one race. Nevertheless, there are always those troublemakers who want to make a couple hours extra longer by complaining about substituting rules, amendments to bylaws, challenging delegate credentials, and so forth. Galactic Senate from the Star Wars prequels stuff.

You know that comeback “This is why Trump won” any time the Left does something nasty or stupid? Every time we waste hours on the process, I think to myself “This is why SB54 passed.”

Each candidate had up to six minutes to speak. Brad Daw went first and said we could make history by sending a software engineer to Washington. That career has never been represented there. The second was Margaret Dayton. She was introduced by a couple members of the House Freedom Caucus, and she took a shot at “glossy videos.” Deidre Henderson spoke about being a voice in Washington.

Chris Herrod emphasized the need to fight radical Islam and stop the Russian collusion investigations. Stewart Peay is not a politician, spoke mainly about his military service. Debbie Aldrich was next, said she was the biggest Trump supporter among all the candidates. Paul Fife was next, spoke about having a vision for a fair tax, a vision for solving illegal immigration. Then came Damian Kidd, who bizarrely spent a lot of time condemning the opulent, outrageous booths that were set up by richer candidates.

Next was Keith Kuder, who was something else. He said he nearly died for the caucus system (I believe he was a referring to a car accident he was in when traveling from an event), that we needed to drain the swamp. He said he wasn’t the best candidate and maybe delegates should vote for Dayton or Herrod instead. Next was Shayne Row, a deaf man who signed his speech while someone else translated. I was heartened to see how many people knew the ASL version of clapping when he was done. Last was John Curtis, who said he would fight for our votes (even though he’s already on the ballot thanks to the signature path).

At this point, Lowell Nelson appealed to the Chair to change the threshold to 60% per the Utah Constitution rather than the bylaw threshold of 50% which delegates approved last month. Denied. This would come into play later.

After the first round of voting of 794 delegates, the lowest three were eliminated. They were Aldrich (4), Row (2), and Kuder (0). Round 2 eliminated Fife and Daw. Round 3 eliminated Kidd. Round 4 eliminated Curtis, Peay, and Dayton. The final two were Deidre Henderson and Chris Herrod, and by a 77 vote margin, Herrod became the nominee with 55% of the vote.

So normally Herrod and Henderson would have gone to a primary, and it would have been a four-person primary thanks to SB54, but now it’s a three-person primary. Again, I thought Henderson and Dayton were the front-runners when we started and yet somehow both women lost.

So what happened? My guess is by being the main attack dog against Henderson, Dayton’s campaign turned some of her would-be supporters to Chris Herrod. The Grassroots ad that showed her and Herrod basically the same, meaning Herrod was fine. Also, I think Herrod really re-raised his profile with some delegates for his work on the Ted Cruz campaign.

As for the August primary, from what I’m hearing, John Curtis has a very good shot of winning. Herrod has his hardcore base, but in the broader populace, it’s going to be really easy to take some of his past blog posts and make him unacceptable to a variety of voters. Tanner Ainge, I have no idea. I read

Tanner Ainge, I have no idea. I read his Deseret News piece, and it felt like a nothing burger any candidate could have written. I hope to meet him this week. And if Gordon Hayward winds up in Boston, his campaign is dead on arrival. But hey, I thought Trump would lose in the general too. Nobody knows anything.

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