Mitt Romney and the end of the Utah GOP

by Paul Mero

By the time you read this, Mitt Romney will have announced his candidacy for the United States Senate from Utah. He will win the seat being vacated by Orrin Hatch and he will win big. You might think that the Utah GOP under current party circumstances would welcome Romney’s decision. Instead, the state Republican chairman now holds Romney in contempt.

On the eve of Romney’s announcement, Utah GOP chairman Rob Anderson essentially called him a carpetbagger and compared him to Hillary Clinton. Anderson reeled off a host of complaints about Romney:

  • He does not live in Utah.
  • His kids were not born in Utah.
  • He does not shop here.
  • He is using name recognition to win a seat.
  • Because he is not from Utah, he is unable to effectively represent the state.
  • Other good conservative candidates will not run now.
  • He has been poaching all of the best campaign, media, and fundraising talent.
  • He will not support the state GOP platform.
  • And, my favorite, Mitt Romney is not a Trump supporter.

All of which reminds me of that sanity check my mom used to say to me: Before you say something stupid to other people, say it out loud to yourself. If it sounds stupid to you, it will sound even more egregious to them. Anderson’s off-the-cuff remarks about Mitt Romney are very stupid.

Yes, Romney lives in Utah. No, his children were not born here, but a billion of his grandchildren were. True, perhaps Mitt has not bought a pack of gum himself in Utah over the last 20 years, but someone from his Utah household, using his money, sure has. And when has it ever been a crime to win elected office because of name recognition? Candidates pay zillions of dollars for name recognition. So, Romney is a bum all of the sudden because he needs none?

Of course, he will represent Utah effectively – does Romney know any other way? And do we really care that other good conservatives will not run now? And, by the way, why not run? Don’t good Utah conservatives do things out of principle, not expediency? Oh, they can’t run because Romney already has poached the best campaign people. But, think about that for a second Mr. Chairman, given the track record of convention Republicans, your convention candidates were not going to use the best people anyway.

So you say Mitt will not support the Utah GOP platform. Yeah, him and a couple of million other Utahns. But I can guarantee you that he will align more closely with that platform than any Democrat or candidate from the United Party. And, lastly, does Mitt really need to be a lapdog for Donald Trump? What makes Mitt so appealing to many of us conservatives is that he sees right through Trump.

To not support Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate for the United States Senate will be the end of the Utah Republican Party. Rob Anderson has lit that fuse and, if he does not take time to stamp it out while he can, opposition to Mitt Romney will kill the Utah GOP.

Retrenchment helps dying religions, not political parties. The caucus-convention mess already has many life-long Utah Republicans jumping ship. Numbers are down as are finances. The Utah GOP is being handled so poorly that its sole means of viability rests in the hands of one or two donors. That circumstance is crazy in a deeply red state and the chairman’s ridiculous comments only make things worse.

If I have not said it before, it is high time that honest conservatives jettison the cast of crazy ideologues driving the current GOP agenda. The better strategy for a serious political party would be to claim Mitt Romney as their own and then claim victory. To do anything else is stupid and political suicide for the Utah GOP.


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