Deseret News/KSL delegate panel speaks out

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Kameron Simmons, Utah delegate

Top list: Who are Utah's delegates?

View videos of delegates Kameron Simmons, above, Marla Howard, middle left, and Judy Moore, below left, speaking about the issues.

You can follow the delegates through our blog and their @UTDelegates Twitter feed.

SALT LAKE CITY — This Saturday, almost 7,000 Republican and Democratic state party delegates will meet to nominate candidates in key races including U.S. Senate, Congress and governor.

To better understand the work delegates do, the Deseret News and KSL-TV assembled a panel of eight men and women representing a range of political views, ages and backgrounds. Five are first-time delegates.

They come from all four congressional districts and five counties along the Wasatch Front. They gathered recently at the KSL studios to talk about their experiences and share their opinions on the candidates.

The purpose of the delegate panel is to give readers and viewers insight into a process that's been criticized for limiting voter participation. Most voters won't have a say in choosing party nominees, unless there is a primary election.

This election year, polls show that delegates are more moderate, with most being elected for the first time. Many responded to a call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to participate in the March party caucus meetings, where delegates were selected.

Others were recruited by candidates, especially Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who faces a tough intraparty challenge from former state lawmaker Dan Liljenquist in his bid for a seventh term.

The rancor from just two years ago, when delegates ousted longtime Sen. Bob Bennett at the GOP state convention, appears to have dissipated. Now, incumbents like Republican Gov. Gary Herbert are seen as having more support.

Following are highlights from the delegate panel discussion with Utah delegates Kristen Price, Daryl Acumen, Judy Moore, Kameron Simmons, Gil Miller, Rosemary Young, Marla Howard and Sam Johnson:

Why did you get involved?

Rosemary: One of the reasons why I wanted to be a delegate, a state delegate, is because I hadn't been happy with what I perceived was going on at the state convention. Being too far to the right, from the way, from where I stand, and I wanted to make a difference.

Gil: I was concerned about the caucus going too far to the right and I wanted someone on there that thought perhaps a little bit more moderately.

Judy: I feel like there's been too much compromise on principles and I feel like we need principled leadership. And I feel like a moderate position is actually a position that goes to the other side … I found some principles, some things I could believe in, unite people and so I got excited and for the first time registered as a Republican.

Marla: One of the reasons I switched parties was I felt the Republican Party was being manipulated. The political aspects (of) the Republican Party really was turning me off. So I made the choice to get involved on the Democratic side, getting out there and learning more about the issues at hand — not taking a passive stance like a lot of other people have.

Sam: I have a lot more hope for the Democrats in this state than I think a lot of other people do. I feel like a lot of people are really turned off by the polarized attitude of this state and how severely Republican it has become.

Kristen: As I shared information with those sitting around me (at the caucus meeting), they wanted me to run for delegate and nominated me. I found that maybe I'm a political junkie. … But I also went into this with a very open mind.

What has it been like being a delegate?

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