OREM — Utah County Republican delegates voted out one county commissioner and forced another into a primary election Saturday, and one Republican candidate for governor is complaining he was maneuvered out of an opportunity to address the delegates.
The Utah County Republican Convention didn't lack for drama, both on the Mountain View High School stage and behind the scenes.
Two-term County Commissioner Steve White's defeat by challenger Douglas Witney surprised many, including Witney, who received 65.8 percent of the delegate vote and will advance to the general election.
"I'm shocked. I did not expect it. I really thought there would be a primary election," Witney said.
Prior to the vote, Linda Housekeeper, the only woman in the commission race, withdrew from the race.
"Will stand aside so you are free to vote for Doug Witney," Housekeeper said. "That's who I'm going to cast my delegate vote for."
There will be a primary election for the other Utah County Commission seat, as incumbent Gary Anderson and Joel Wright split the vote, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Wright said he was satisfied to take the election to a Republican primary race.
"I'm really happy. It's very hard to take out an incumbent," he said.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the convention was played out while delegates were casting their first ballot, when gubernatorial candidate Richard Martin complained to convention Chairman Taylor Oldroyd that he was being forced to choose between addressing the Utah County delegates, or leaving in time to speak at the Salt Lake County Convention.
"He was mad because we went to the first ballot before letting him speak, but he was never on the agenda to speak before the first ballot," Oldroyd said. "What I don't appreciate is his verbally attacking me here."
The Utah County Steering Committee Wednesday night had reversed a controversial decision that would have allowed only Gov. Gary Herbert to address delegates because of his status as an elected officials. That change offered Richard Martin, Daniel Oaks and Dell Schanze a spot on the agenda toward the end of the meeting, after the first ballot.
During the meeting, delegates voted to shift the agenda to allow some candidates, including the eight candidates for U.S. Senate and elected officials like Herbert, to speak before the first ballot. That gave them plenty of time to make the drive to Sandy, where the Salt Lake Convention was being held.
The remaining gubernatorial candidates were forced to wait if they wanted to speak.
"Needless to say we were highly disappointed," said Karen Martin, Richard Martin's campaign manager and wife. Richard Martin chose to leave Orem before he had a chance to speak. Oaks remained to deliver his message of change, before moving to the other convention. Schanze did not make an appearance at the convention.
Karen Martin said she had been told initially that the candidates could expect to be on the agenda by 11:30 a.m., allowing them time to speak and still make their 12:30 p.m. address in Sandy, but party insiders had warned her to expect a maneuver that would squeeze them out.
"This never should have been an issue," she said, accusing the Utah County convention organizers of favoring Herbert and "breaking neutrality."
Oldroyd denied the move was designed to do anything other than move the convention agenda along, and that the change was made with the approval of all the delegates.
The convention generated three primary contests. In addition to Anderson, a primary election will be held countywide for the office of county recorder between Jeff Smith and incumbent Rodney Campbell.
Val Peterson and Michael J. Thompson will face each other for House District 59. The seat is currently held by Laurie Fowlke, who is not running for re-election.
In the only other local Utah House race without an incumbent, for District 63, Dean Sanpei out-polled Dawn Frandsen. A 62 percent supermajority advanced Sanpei to the general election, but not before Frandsen challenged the credentials of college students who had been elected as delegates in the district, but who she claimed may not qualify to vote in Utah.
"We have a large number of students. This a problem in our district and it's not going to go away ever," Frandsen said. Frandsen wanted the party to review the credentials of a handful of delegates, but her complaint was dismissed by the delegates by a voice vote.
Sanpei said the delegate credentials was a non-issue and that he is looking forward to campaigning for the general election.
Incumbent state representatives who received enough votes to bypass the primary election were: Craig A. Frank received 74 percent of the vote over John Stevens for House District 57; Bradley Daw received 65 percent over Calvin Harper for House District 60; Francis Gibson received 82 percent to over Mark Jarman for House District 65; and Michael Morley received 93 percent of the vote over Scott Brighton and Glen Roberts in House District 66.
For Gibson, the convention vote ensures his election, since he will run unopposed in November.
County races decided Saturday include Kris Poulson for county assessor, Gary Ratcliffe for county surveyor and Jim Tracy for sheriff. Tracy, who faced two opponents, received 73.5 percent of the vote. All of these candidates will run unopposed in November.
A straw poll of the delegates for the upcoming U.S. Senate race showed strong support for Mike Lee, with 41 percent. Cherilyn Eagar received 22 percent, Tim Bridgewater 18 percent and Sen. Bob Bennett, 15 percent. The remaining 4 percent was split between Leonard Fabiano, Jeremy Friedbaum, Merrill Cook and David Chiu.
Utah County Republican Convention results
John Stevens 34 votes
Craig Frank 97 votes (nominee)
Utah County GOP boots commissionerDistrict 59 (Will go to Primary election)
Mike Thompson 34 votes
Val Peterson 37 votes
Brad Daw 64 votes (nominee)
Calvin Harper 35 votes
Dawn Frandsen 18 votes
Dean Sanpei 30 votes (nominee)
Mark Jarman 24 votes
Francis Gibson 106 votes (nominee)
Scott Brighton 7 votes
Mike Morley 93 votes (nominee)
Bryan Thompson (by acclamation)
Robert Kirk (by acclamation)
Jeff Buhman (by acclamation)
Commission Seat A (Will go to a Primary)
James Vein (eliminated in round 1 voting)
Gary Anderson 643 votes (round 2)
Joel Wright 604 votes (round 2)
Commission Seat B
Steve White 424 votes
Doug Witney 906 votes (nominee)
Leon Frazier 45 votes
Linda Housekeeper 1 vote
Steve Hemingway 89 votes
Kris Poulson 1280 votes (nominee)
County recorder (Will go to a primary)
Jeff Smith 702 votes
Rod Campbell 664 votes
Gary Ratcliffe 887 votes (nominee)
Scott Peterson 480 votes
Robin Wall 235 votes
James Tracy 1008 votes (nominee)
Dan Burton 127 votes