Utah State Nominating Convention Report

From: Terry L. Thompson
(Legislative District 6 Chair)
To: Weber County Republicans
Ref: Utah State Nominating Convention
Date: May 13, 2006

Total Delegates 3,478
Total Attendance 3,136
Percentage Over 90% (amazing for an off Presidential election year!)

The Utah State Nominating Convention was held at the South Towne Expo Center. The following is a summary of points of interest in the meeting as follows:

There were State Legislative races being voted on prior to the Call to Order of the convention. The race that effected Weber County Republicans was State Senate race 18 between incumbent Dave Thomas and challenger John Griener. There was some controversy surrounding this race as differing times for votes to be cast were advertised. Consequently, some votes were late getting in. Therefore, during the lunch break Senate 18 residents met and agreed to allow the late voters. Because of this delay the results came in late and some folks were very unhappy about the cluster this caused.

For starters a small miracle occurred. For a brief moment I almost thought I saw a shining star in the East. An agenda debate threatened to rear it’s ugly head and it was dealt with in a short, timely, fashion…no kiddin. Now I know some of you are throwing out the B.S. flag but I am telling you it happened, I witnessed it, and I cannot deny it. Crazier things have happened but neither Elvis or I could think of anything crazier right off hand. (I know, sometimes I am a tad irreverent, please forgive me.)

There was a significant grassroots education process that has dealt with this issue. Entering the convention amid the candidate literature we received flyers, stickers, etc. asking Delegates to vote NO on the Amendment proposal. As many of you already know the proposed Amendment dealing with how State Delegates are elected was the major Party housekeeping issue to be voted on going into this convention. The Amendment had been passed in the State Central Committee (SCC) Meeting by a 2/3 vote amid a plethora of bickering. There were some shady shenanigans perpetrated by the Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) Committee. I am convinced that if enough others had recognized the “Slick Willie” sneak attack of C&B Committee Chair Dana Dickson (he effectively shut out Nancy Lord at the SCC meeting using Roberts Rules of Disorder) this Amendment would have never seen the light of day and would not have been an issue at this Nominating Convention. However, the good news is State Delegates had more time to become educated on the subject.

The amendment would have allowed Counties total control over how State Delegates are elected. To be sure there are compelling arguments on both sides of this issue. However, there is one argument that trumps the entire debate in my book. I am speaking from experience as Weber County has elected State Delegates in Precinct Caucus meetings and at the County Nominating Convention in District Caucus meetings. We have also had automatic Delegates.

If State Delegates are elected anywhere but in the neighborhood Precinct Caucus meeting invariably there are entire Precincts of Registered Republican Voters that go completely unrepresented at the State level and that is unacceptable. This is why the State Party has a vested interest in how State Delegates are elected in my book. I understand the County Chairs and other Officers who do not want the State telling them what to do; but it invites corruption through automatic Delegates status and completely eliminates representation for thousands of Utah Voters!

The Amendment was presented with arguments on each side of the issue and a voice vote was taken. State Party Vice-Chair Enid Green was at the pulpit running the gavel. Thank goodness, or it would have turned into a cluster with State Party Chair Joe Cannon timidly tapping the gavel. I am not trying to hack on Joe Cannon, I am simply pointing out that like it or not Enid Green knows how to make a timely decision, keep the debate moving, and take care of business. Ms. Green did a good job of keeping everyone informed of exactly what each vote meant as we maneuvered through the Rules as adopted for the convention. She did kind of slant her descriptions of the steps of the process toward favoring the passing of the Amendment. However, in her defense I do not feel that it was intentional. Nonetheless, I have talked to Delegates who were unhappy with her.

I do have to tell you about her significant faux pas that I think was unintentional but will undoubtedly net additional criticism. Ms. Green was trying (I think objectively) to describe the specifics of the actual vote on the Amendment and described those opposed (myself included) as believing in “Secret Combinations” as related directly to this Amendment. This created a collective gasp from the attending Delegates pretty much as a whole and created a stir that required bully pulpit pounding to bring order. Then she snapped at Delegates for the grumbling rather than issuing a sincere apology. I think the apology for the misspoken description would have quickly and more quietly put the “foot in mouth” behind her; but she angrily pounded on the pulpit and barked at Delegates which certainly did not help. I don’t think it was intentional and it sure wasn’t pretty. I suspect we will hear more about it.

A voice vote was taken that Ms. Green called as “No’s” would have it. (This vote only had to be a majority to ratify what the SCC had passed by 2/3) A call for a count was made and everyone had to stand to be counted. The YES votes were more than a majority however Ms. Green called to count NO votes anyway. Good call as there were more NO votes than YES votes meaning that some Delegates were voting twice to the tune of 400 extra votes. An attempt was made to count by individual Counties (remember there are 3,136 Delegates, the counting took a significant amount of time. Ultimately, a decision was made to have a YES or NO written on the back of the Senate vote card that each Delegate would submit upon voting for Senate seats. This made some unhappy who had voted early but the reason for the early vote was that they had to leave early, so it was still a good call to settle the vote on this Amendment. Eventually, the count was announced late in the day and the proposed Amendment was defeated by a spread of 59% to 41%.

There was not anything of significant interest to report in the Senate race. Orrin Hatch won the nomination with 78% Delegate support.

1st Congressional District: Rob Bishop was elected by acclimation as he ran unopposed.
2nd Congressional District: Lavar Christensen won the nomination.
3rd Congressional District: Chris Cannon and John Jacob were the remaining two candidates.

I left the convention at approximately 4:30 and they still had not announced the outcome. Sorry, the entire 1st Congressional District and most of the 2nd Congressional District Delegates had gone home. My group that carpooled together were some of the only ones left. Since it did not effect our District I couldn’t make them wait any longer. My brother, brother-in-law, and nephew had shown considerable patience as it was and a lynching appeared imminent.

In their defense they did wait to see if the remaining proposed Amendments and Resolutions would be considered. A count of Delegates was taken to determine if a quorum was available to vote on the remainder of the agenda items. ( State Party bylaws require at least 50% of Delegates to be present to have a quorum.) The vote revealed that only 1,002 Delegates remained at the convention which did not constitute a quorum. We all left little swirling dust devils behind as we jettisoned out of the convention to “hurry up and wait” in traffic, oh well.

Senator John McCain is not one of my favorite U.S. Congressional Elected Officials. I feel that he is on the wrong side of way to many issues. That being said – He is a true war hero in every sense of the word and deserves our complete and total respect for his service to our Country. (That does not mean we need to agree with his politics.) Senator McCain delivered a positive and well stated address that was very supportive of the War on Terror and President Bush. I thought that his comments were extremely well put in a very conservative environment and that he gave a well received address to all attendees. In return, the reception by State Delegates was warm and appreciative. His remarks at convention were positive and uplifting. So, like him or not he was a good speaker and complimented the convention.

The State Convention certainly had it’s ups and downs but make no mistake about it…THE WEBER COUNTY NOMINATING CONVENTION OUTCLASSED IT BIG TIME! Okay, so I am a bit biased but the State Convention did seem to experience some disorganization and an overall lack of planning. Leg. District Chair Tom Feeny said that he felt that the time spent by our Executive Committee trouble shooting potential problematic issues contributed to a smooth transition of events…I agree.

State Delegate traffic to Congressional District areas was unclear for some; down time was not utilized as effectively; voting procedures were not as smooth. Inadequate seating for me was the main issue effecting the quality of the procedures. Seating was not available; many persons were standing in surrounding isle areas and the meeting was disrupted with demands to sit or leave. (there was nowhere to be seated.) Consequently, the noise from conversations taking place by individuals surrounding the Delegate seating area made hearing the convention speaker very difficult. The Weber County area was in a back corner and (since I am half deaf anyway) I had a very difficult time hearing the proceedings. I moved to the front of the convention in another County area so that I could hear what was happening. I would have preferred to stay with others attending from Weber County as there is a feeling of camaraderie associated with fellow Delegates from my own area. Thank you for humoring me once again!




Labels: Utah State Conventions