Urban Republican Party leaders appear to have concluded that they cannot defeat the “Count (Buy) My Vote” initiative that would replace the current caucus/convention system with a direct primary where big money determines the Party’s candidates.
During a State Central Committee meeting, State Party Chair James Evans told Party leaders that they had given him nothing to defend the current caucus system with although he had run for and been elected as State Party Chair by telling delegates that he knew how to save the caucus system.
Evans also emphasized that it was important to maintain the good will of big moneyed Republicans in order fund the party’s organization and to support Republican candidates.
Chad Bennion, Chair of the Salt Lake County Republicans, offered a plan that would likely increase the number of primary elections by linking the threshold required to earn the party’s nomination at convention to caucus turnout – the lower the caucus turnout, the higher the threshold. Central Committee members originally rejected it but it will be considered again in December.
Picking up on Evans’ emphasis on the importance of big money Republicans, departing Lt. Governor, Greg Bell, pointed out the party’s need for the business community’s money. This fits nicely in with the Count (Buy) My Vote group’s vision of Utah politics – rich, influential business people controlling the nominating process and elective offices with their money while minimizing the influence of average citizens.
Wearing his Boy Scout uniform, National Committeeman Bruce Hough told State Central Committee members that unless they surrendered to the big money guys' demands, they would lose the caucus/convention system. Of course, surrender will mean that big money replaces citizen influence in the nomination process but that is the price that establishment Republicans appear willing to pay.
Rural Republicans along with many of their colleagues from Utah County largely rejected the surrender strategy and are organizing to prevent the Count (Buy) My Vote elites from turning rural Utah into “flyover country” for statewide candidates.
Willy Billings, state party vice-chair, laid out the framework of a plan to prevent the Count (Buy) My Vote group from getting the requisite number of signatures in rural Senate districts in Southern Utah.
Aaron Gabrielson, who was defeated by Evans in the battle for State Party Chair, also has a comprehensive, aggressive plan to prevent Wasatch County residents from signing onto the Count (Buy) My Vote initiative.
So, it would appear that it will be rural Utah fighting the big money elites while the urban Republican Party establishment pursues a strategy of appeasement and surrender.
Normally, rural Republicans wouldn’t have a chance but if they can stop the Count (Buy) My Vote group from getting the requisite signatures in just four rural Senate districts, they can stop the initiative dead in its tracks.