GOP delegates keep system as is; Love announces candidacy

2013-05-19T00:40:00Z 2013-10-16T12:06:17Z GOP delegates keep system as is; Love announces candidacyBilly Hesterman - Daily Herald Daily Herald
May 19, 2013 12:40 am  • 

SANDY -- Utah Republicans voted to keep their current nomination system as is at their state convention on Saturday.

The state delegates made the decision to retain their power and keep the current requirement that a person seeking the party's nomination receive 60 percent of the vote of the delegates to avoid a primary election instead of the proposed change to two-thirds.

Former Congresswoman Enid Mickelsen pushed for the change to the number as she stated the current system protects incumbent candidates. Mickelsen stated that when the party changed the threshold in the 1990's that the change was nicknamed the incumbent protection act. She argued to the over 2,500 state delegates that it would be better for the party to raise the threshold because it will force incumbents to reach a higher number to avoid a primary election in the future.

Utah County resident Arturo Morales spoke against the proposal to change the threshold. Morales stated the reason the change was even being considered was because the party was being threatened by a group of Republicans who want to create an alternate path to the ballot. Morales called on the delegates to not give into the threat of that group.

"Are you willing to give into their demands? The answer is a simple no," he said. "Sixty percent works for Utah."

State Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, explained to the delegates that he voted for the change to bring the threshold to its current status. He said that vote was a mistake. He asked for the party to embrace the change and to move forward as a united body with the two-thirds threshold.

The delegates voted down the proposal with a total of 55 percent the delegates opposing the change.

Representatives with the group pushing for the alternate path to the ballot referenced by Morales said no decisions have been made if they will move forward with their plan. Rich McKeown, spokesman for the Count My Vote group, said the group will gather on Monday to decide what their next plan of action will be to increase voter participation in the state.

The state Democratic Party is considering scrapping the whole caucus convention system for their party. State Democratic delegates will vote at their state convention in the summer if the party will continue using the same system as the Republicans or if they will move to a direct primary system.

Also at the convention Republican delegates gave loud applause and cheers to Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love when she made it official that she will challenge Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, for the fourth congressional seat in the 2014 elections.

Love, who lost to Matheson in the 2012 election by just over 700 votes, told the delegates that they have unfinished business and then announced that she will be running again next year.

Love said things with the country are not changing for the better and that is why she is motivated to run once again. She said she hopes to be elected so she can be part of the solution in Washington.

Republicans also elected a new party leadership to lead them for the next two years at their convention. James Evans will replace Thomas Wright as the state party chair. Willie Billings was elected to be the new vice chair and Michelle Mumford was selected as the party secretary.

-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can follow him on Twitter at: @billyhesterman
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