The Inexplicable Case of the Utah Republican Party’s Sunday Press Conference

The Inexplicable Case of the Utah Republican Party's Sunday Press ConferenceOne of the strangest events of the political year has already happened, and it’s only January 5. Yesterday the Utah Republican Party held a press conference announcing the results of a poll they took and some updates on the status of their opposition to Senate Bill 54.

For those who don’t remember, SB 54 created a dual-track path to become a nominee to any political office in Utah. You can either go through caucus and convention or you can now gather signatures to go on a primary ballot. While SB 54 is a boon to the advertising and polling industries, it is a threat to the business of the parties. Political parties are no longer able to act as the electoral gatekeeper, which will lessen their influence.

Because of this, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Utah Republican Party, in the words of Chairman James Evans, felt “revoking SB54 is so important that it conducted the rare Sunday media event because “the gravity of the situation mandates” it.

In other words, this was so important that it couldn’t wait until Monday, but not important enough to move it up to Friday or Saturday. It was a very specific level of importance, one that doesn’t come up often.

After criticism from the Republican Lieutenant Governor, the official Utah GOP Twitter account gave a slightly different reasoning – it was because January 4 was the anniversary of Utah’s admittance to the United States. That is certainly a reason, although I’m sure that most people in the state would have forgiven the Utah GOP for celebrating a day early or a day late.

Perhaps there were other reasons for holding this press conference on a Sunday. I would propose a few possibilities:

  • They wanted to bury it. Nothing says buried like a few journalists in a room in Utah on a Sunday immediately after church meetings during an NFL playoff game.
  • They wanted to show that they were hip and cool. Just like rebellious kids wear their hair long or skip church, they felt that ignoring the societal mores around them would send that message.
  • They’ve spent too much time in Washington, DC and forgot that they were representing the people of Utah – the second most religious state in the nation.

Ultimately, whatever the reason is, I believe that this is one more arrow in the quivers of people who don’t care for Chairman Evans. As a result, should he choose to run for reelection, he may find it far more challenging than winning the first time. It will also leave the next chair with a lot of work to do as they mend fences between the party, the people, and our elected representatives.

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