Chairman Thomas Wright: Report on 2nd Congressional District ruckus could be done next week

Published: Thursday, April 26 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said Thursday he's following through with his promise to delegates to straighten out the confusion caused by allegations of underhanded politicking among some 2nd Congressional District candidates at the state party convention.

But after spending the day talking to the 10 active candidates in the race, he said it's still not clear who is to blame.

"I don't really have a sense of where I'm headed. I have nine pages of notes," Wright said. "We really don't know much more about what happened today than we did before. A lot of it is perspective and people's different viewpoints."

Delegates asked Wright to report back to them on the infighting among candidates after several abruptly withdrew before the second round of voting, including one candidate who called another a liar before having his mic turned off.

The ruckus started during the first round of speeches, held in a hall away from the main stage, when one candidate, Eureka Mayor Milt Hanks, accused other candidates of ganging up on the eventual nominee, author and pilot Chris Stewart.

"Any time you have a surprise announcement in a race, it always concerns you, because candidates should have a chance to answer any allegations that were made," Wright said. But they didn't have time in their second-round speeches, limited to just a minute.

Wright said at Saturday's convention he was as confused as many of the delegates.

"I had no idea what had transpired and all the emotion that had built up over there," he said. His hope is that his findings will help restore the reputations of the accused candidates.

"We'll do everything we can," he said, adding he was still optimistic he could get to the bottom of the allegations, including finding the author of an anonymous letter to delegates that was critical of Stewart.

His report could be completed as early as next week, Wright said.

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