The caucus has an image problem. Can we fix it?

After the Republican state convention, it’s become fairly obvious why a lot of people think ill of the caucus system. It took five hours of arguing about rules and agendas before anyone could get to the primary purpose, nominating candidates. Not only does this alienate new participants (my father-in-law was a first time state delegate and less than impressed), it makes the caucus and convention process look like a complete clown show. On top of that, we’re doing little to build faith that the convention process actually sends the best…

The caucus is dead and the delegates killed it

I’ve long been a very strong supporter of the caucus system for choosing party nominees and a vocal critic of the Count My Vote effort to circumvent it. But I’m also a political realist, someone who sees what the playing field is like and knows when you have to adjust your tactics. Sadly, the most ardent supporters of the caucus system seem to be pretty clueless in this regard. In fact, I’d argue that it’s already dead, they don’t know it, and they did most of the work to kill…

Problems with the caucus

If we are going to be able to keep the caucus system relevant then we need to have an honest discussion as to what needs to be modified. While there probably isn’t a perfect system, there are some definite improvements that can be made. It is really interesting to consider just how many of the problems listed here can also apply to actual elected officials, not just delegates. I see far fewer of these problems with actual elected officials though. I have seen too many caucus supporters claim that the…

Another Perspective on the Utah Republican Party Preliminary Injunction Hearing on SB 54

I had the opportunity of attending the preliminary injunction hearing on April 10th in Salt Lake. The Utah Republican Party’s attorneys Marcus Mumford, Christ Troupis and Michelle Mumford were in court on behalf of the Utah GOP.  Utah State Assistant Attorney General General David Wolf argued on behalf of the state. AG Sean Reyes recused himself from the case previously. In order to be granted, a preliminary injunction (a delay of implementation of the law), the party seeking the preliminary injunction must demonstrate all four things together: That there is a substantial likelihood…

An Open Letter to Parents, Utah Legislators, and Newly Elected State School Board Members Concerning Education Legislation from a Public School Educator

A few years ago I had the opportunity to lead a training for some teachers in the LA Unified School District.   The minute I set foot on campus, it was obvious that I wasn’t in Utah anymore. The training venue looked more like a lockdown facility than any high school I was accustomed to back home. The teachers were nice enough, and the training went as expected. While eating lunch with the teachers, I was asked about the school where I taught. I proudly talked about my district and the…

Snapshot of GOP Caucus Night #OR28

I attended the GOP caucus for Orem Precinct 28 – the Fighting 28th! – on the evening of March 20. I preregistered online and also checked the boxes of the offices for which I planned to run. I was able to give my printout and show my driver’s license to the lady in charge of last names E-L. She’s known me for over ten years, but they still made sure everyone had their ID. We had the gymnasium of Orem Elementary. In 2012, we’d been assigned an arts & crafts…

Utah’s Right to Citizen Legislation: The Curious Case of Statutorily Defined Constitutional Rights

Although the furor over Count My Vote seems to have subsided (at least for now), the battle over Utah’s nominating systems has raised some fascinating issues, one of which has especially piqued my interest. Utah’s Constitution expressly guarantees the right of citizens to legislate via initiative and referendum, but “in the numbers, under the conditions, in the manner, and within the time provided by statute.”  Here’s the full text of the provision, found in Article VI of the Utah Constitution (emphasis added): (2) (a) (i) The legal voters of the State…

Are Caucus Delegates Better Informed Than the General Electorate?

Kelly Patterson, a Professor of Political Science at BYU, recently posted an article on Utah Data Points titled “Who is a Better Filter, Caucus Attendees or Primary Voters?  The point of Patterson’s article was to demonstrate empirically that the caucus system did not generate better (or at least more informed) political outcomes than a primary — i.e., that the representative caucus system acted as a superior “filter” compared to the direct primary.  Patterson relied on a survey testing voters’ knowledge of Utah and national politics an ran a comparison based…

Count My Vote: follow the money

Count My Vote

In 2010, establishment beltway Republican Bob Bennett was seeking his fourth term as U.S. Senator, even though he’d initially campaigned on a two-term pledge. His re-election would have been in the bag in the general election, but first he had to go through the Republican Party convention to earn the party nomination. A groundswell of  Republican delegates, however,  were ready to move on, and they narrowed the field down to Tim Bridgewater (58%) and Mike Lee (42%), denying Bennett the nomination and ending his Senate career. Lee went on to…

SB54 v. Count My Vote

Reform of Utah’s caucus-convention system is always a hot topic among Utah’s politicos, but 2014 has seen the normal controversy escalate beyond more than talk, as there are currently two proposals out there that would seriously alter  Utah’s political landscape. Right now, Utah’s election code allows parties exclusive control over the process they use for endorsing candidates on the ballots for a general election.  Both parties in Utah have opted to nominate and endorse candidates exclusively through a caucus-convention system that is uniform, even though it isn’t mandated anywhere in…