SALT LAKE CITY — Kirk Pearson and Brandin Nay both build homes for a living and have mutual respect for each other. But what makes this relationship different is that they are supporting each other even as they face off in Tuesday's primary election in search of the right to be the Constitution Party choice for governor.
Pearson, 49, has been a contractor for 27 years and resides in Lake Point. He's served as the president of the park and cemetery board in Lake Point but otherwise has limited government experience.
Nay, 34, has been a home builder for 14 years and resides in Tooele. He has been with the party for the past five years.
Either man is a long shot to upend the incumbent, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, or the Democratic challenger, Peter Cooke in November. But that's not the only point of the race that pits the two candidates for the Constitution Party.
"It is not the party that matters, but the principles that matter," Pearson said. "If they have good principles and that is what they stand for, I am going to vote for them."
Tim Chambless, an associate professor of political science at the University of Utah and and part of the Hinckley Institute of politics, said the Constitution Party's purpose is usually not to win, but to try to send out its political message.
"(The Constitution Party) usually gets 100 votes and usually from family," said Chambless. "They run with little money and political support."
The number of voters registered with the Constitution Party has increased during the past 3 years from 2,185 registered voters in 2009 to 3,487, said Mark Thomas the director of elections for the lieutenant governor's office.
Any registered voter — from any party — can vote for the Constitution Party candidates, a party that aligns in part with the conservative anti-tax principles of the tea party. But its core differs because it seeks to restore American law to a biblical foundation.
Party supporters oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage, speak out against illegal immigration and do not support the United States membership in the United Nations.
Pearson said he is running on a campaign to return control of Utah's federally controlled land to state stewardship.
"(I would) take back our land from the federal government," said Pearson. "If they have a problem with that they can take us to court."
Nay said he is running to take a stand against illegal immigrants. He said as a builder he's seen construction jobs go to illegal immigrants and he's against allowing them to work here. He is opposed to a worker program and said there is no place for amnesty.
"I don't care if their children were born here," he said, in opposition to President Obama's recent change in immigration policy.2 comments on this story
The U.S. Taxpayer Party started in 1992 after Independent state parties joined together. Convention delegates later changed the name to the Constitution Party in 1999 for its national nominating convention in time for the 2000 elections.
So should it be Pearson or Nay or Tueday?:
"I would have no hard feelings if Brandin (Nay) won the race," Pearson said.
"Whoever they vote for out of the two of us, I'll be alright with," Nay said. "Both are great options."