by John Mulholland

It’s election time again. This time it is for Utah County Republican Party Officers at the 2017 organizing convention. I interviewed the candidates to help them spread their messages, making it easier to run, and to help the delegates get information that they need to make informed decisions.

Chair
One of the controversial issues this election is party neutrality. As many of you know party bylaws state that party officers “ must show pre-convention and primary neutrality toward Republican candidates for public office where Republican opposition exists.”

With the law change of SB54 the party leadership decided that they should support convention nominees over signature gathering candidates.

UCRP NOMINEES & OFFICER NEUTRALITY

Watch this video on YouTube or on Easy Youtube.

This is a video produced by Craig Frank justifying his actions. He claims that Utah County Republican Party Republicans are not the same as general Republicans.

Many do not feel that this justifies abandoning traditional neutrality without at least changing the bylaws.

A more disturbing implication of the change is that anybody who supports a Republican candidate who has gone the signature gathering route may be in violation of neutrality. “Publicly support only Republican candidates for partisan public office. Any officer who publicly supports or runs as a non-Republican Party candidate in a partisan race will be subject to removal for cause from his/her elected or appointed office.“

“Publicly support only Republican candidates for partisan public office. Any officer who publicly supports or runs as a non-Republican Party candidate in a partisan race will be subject to removal for cause from his/her elected or appointed office.“

“After the Utah County Republican Party has a nominee, any elected office holder or candidate who supports (i.e. money or in-kind contributions, posting signs, public endorsements, etc.) or runs as a non-Republican Party candidate will be ineligible to run as a Republican during the next election cycle for any Utah County Republican Party office or partisan elected office nominated by the Utah County Republican Party. “

If a signature gatherer wins the primary will the party support that candidate in the general election? If that candidate is elected will that candidate be able to present at Utah County Republican Party events such as conventions? How many ramifications of this approach still need to be considered?

Are the bylaws clear enough that party leadership should just make the decision to support some Republicans over others or is this something that the central committee needs to thoroughly discuss and modify the bylaws to make them more clear?

Craig Frank

Craig has served in the Chair role for the last two years. From the accounts I have heard, central committee meetings have greatly improved and have been fairly calm, except for the most recent one.

Craig has also made a huge effort to reach out to others to participate. This has included groups like the College Republicans and general community members with his traveling Republicans efforts where he held meetings throughout the county. He also said that he has improved the website and seen more visits to get information and access party documents.

Craig has always been a strong defender of the caucus/convention system. He believes so much in that the party should support convention nominees over Republicans that gather signatures that he said he would resign if the party decided to remain neutral.

He said that of his six items he campaigned on he has accomplished all of them but would like another two years to improve on those results, especially around micro-communication. He said that communication at the top levels has worked well and he would like to better communicate with the delegates.

Craig had did not respond to when asked about when a secret ballot was appropriate during state central committee meetings but voted for a secret ballot regarding next steps for the SB54 lawsuit.

Rob Craig

Rob has a background as a business manager and entrepreneur. He has served in the party for several years in such positions as a leg education officer and the treasurer. He has enjoyed the relationships he has formed working with party leaders and wants to serve the party.

Rob said that too much toxicity and infighting exist in the party and that his ability to work with people will help overcome it. He wants to serve for one term and step aside. He wants to serve the party and not waste time. He hopes to see the party members become less adversarial but that doesn’t mean not discussing important issues. He believes in diversity and is very willing to reach out to others, including those that disagree with him, so he can understand the various perspectives of those involved.

His talking points for his campaign are Communication, Leadership, and Unity. He said he would like to be judged on building bridges and making a better public image.

As far as neutrality goes Rob thinks that the central committee needs to discuss it and take action to clarify the wording. He supports the party promoting convention winners over signature gatherers but understands that the current law allows a dual path. He wants to wants the caucus/convention system to be the “Gold Standard” for candidates.

When asked about when a secret ballot was appropriate a state central committee meetings Rob said that he is against secret ballots. He also questioned why the vote regarding further steps for the SB54 lawsuit was listed on the agenda as a secret ballot.

Ryan Boudwin

Ryan has a background in law enforcement and is currently an IT manager. He is currently serving the party as a precinct chair.

He strongly supports the following the rules, especially around neutrality. He feels very strongly that the rules do not justify the party supporting one republican over another. He would be against a rule change to have the party support a convention nominee over a signature gatherer. However, if the rules were changed to require the chair to endorse and support convention nominees, Ryan would follow the rules and bylaws of the party.

Ryan strongly believes that the party should be inclusive and wants to streamline the caucus process and improve our electronic records. Transparency and communication are very critical to him and he would have online “Ask me anything” sessions where party members could ask any question.

He wants to be measured by cooperation with elected officials, the tone of central committee meetings, and the use of more technology.

Ryan is a strong believer in transparency and is against secret ballots for the state central committee. He believes that we should be able to hold elected officials accountable, even within the party.

Vice Chair

Josh Daniels

Josh has a career in politics. He has experience working for congress and on several campaigns. He has been served as chair of the BYU College Republicans and vice-chair of the state college republicans. He currently works on public policy for education and promoted school choice. He is also a policy advisor for Libertas.

He is running on Principles, Process, Power and wants to bring more professionalism in at a county level. He doesn’t want to take the party winning streak for granted. He said he wants to be judged by the victory margins of Republican candidates.

He said he wants to maintain a fair process but believes that the party can already support convention nominees by saying signature gatherers are not the Republicans mentioned in the bylaws. He would be in favor of a rule change, though, to more clearly support convention nominees over signature gathering candidates.

Josh said that he prefers to execute the will of the delegates and isn’t looking for a specific outcome. He just wants to follow what has been agreed on. This includes the ability for the state central committee to use a secret ballot. He just doesn’t want to see people gaming the rules.

Karen Ellingson

Karen is finishing a master’s degree at BYU in Public Administration. Her focus is to help the party come together and focus on similarities. She wants to help the party become more inclusive and discourage labels such as “you are not ….. enough” for the party. Two years is enough to start a shift but it will take longer to change the culture.
She wants central committee meetings to be more about what party members need to be doing instead of small changes to party documents. In order to avoid tunnel vision, she said that you need to be responsive to others.

She feels that attacking Republicans isn’t productive and that the discussion needs to be held about what level of support is appropriate for convention nominees over signature gatherers. She said that the may support a rule change to support convention winners but with a lot of restrictions.

When asked about a secret ballot Karen said that elected officials should be able to be held accountable. She did say that in general principal, due to time efficiency it may not be prudent to record every vote by everybody. She hopes that eventually, we will have a reliable electronic way to do that though.

Secretary

Kristen Chevrier

Kristen has served as the Secretary for the past two years and as the Education Officer before that. She told me that she has built a lot of good relationships and has done well reaching out to grassroots and other groups such as the Hispanic/Latino Community and the College Republicans. She told me that the Lincoln Day dinner was a big success even though it only broke even. She explained to me that it was an effort to reach out to others who are not usually involved, and not as a fundraiser.

She told me that her job is a lot of work and she feels that she has gone beyond what has been asked of her. She has included historical context in meeting minutes along with sending postcards and emails for more meetings than is required by the bylaws.

She explained the central committee meetings, except the last, have been much calmer. She explained that there has been some difficulty getting things from the state on time for caucus night, which has pushed back the dates when she can get registration lists out. She told me that this last caucus night was a bit different than normal as the presidential vote results were a priority over delegate lists. In order to combat these issues she has proactively talked to the state party about the issues so they can be improved.

Kristen told me that she agrees with the current party support of caucus nominees over signature gatherers, but thinks it is always beneficial to be discuss it further. She does want to continue to streamline the caucus meetings as well and help empower grassroots.

As a member of the state central committee Kristen did vote to keep the ballot secret regarding the SB 54 lawsuit. She explained that being able to see how people vote can change the way they vote, especially on highly emotional issues. She generally favors an open ballot though. She definitely believes that individual citizens and people in executive session should have secret ballots.

Heidi Balderree

Heidi is a stay at home mom and fitness instructor. She was also the successful campaign manager for Jefferson Moss, who won by a large margin. She has a diverse background including a Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology with a minor in Spanish and a Masters in Human Resource Management.

Heidi told me she wants to create a better experience than she had a precinct chair. Her frustration with delays in getting information, slow responses, and lack of organization, along with encouragement from friends, pushed her to run. She was also not happy that the Lincoln Day Dinner only broke even and thinks it should do better. When asked about what she had done to look further into these issues she told me that she hadn’t done much but feels we can raise funds and be inclusive at the same time.

She is running on Organization, Inclusiveness, and Unity and wants people to have more than a satisfactory experience.

When asked about the neutrality rule she didn’t have a position.

Regarding secret ballots she said that she generally favors transparency.

Treasurer

David Lamb

David is running unopposed and jokingly said to me that you have to vote for him as not voting would make you a bad delegate. David has a background in finance and has served in financial leadership including CFO for the last twenty years.

David has served the party as a leg chair and I had the honor of serving with him as the education officer. David and I will agree on many things, disagree with some, but my experience is that he will show up to do the job.

David also believes that the issue of party neutrality needs to be discussed by the central committee.