Utah Republican caucusgoers give a thumbs up to traditional process

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 10:00 p.m. MDT

“I served this nation for over 20 years to give them the freedom they have. And after that 20 years, I start exercising my right to vote to try to choose the best people to govern America,” said Bissell, a U.S. Air Force veteran.

“The government we have is what we get by nonparticipation," he said.

In Legislative District 32, which covers an area including Sandy and Draper, Chairman Craig Ulrich said the caucus system is more work for politically interested Republicans but "it works very well." Petitioning one’s way onto the primary ballot would only embolden special interests “who would grab the spotlight because they have the money to do it," he said.

The traditional system ensures elected officials are accountable to the people who elect them, and it encourages participation of people from all walks of life, Ulrich said.

“If we were to go to direct primaries, it would destroy the grass-roots system,” he said.

Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans did not return email, telephone and text messages Thursday seeking comment about the caucus meetings or the compromise struck under SB54.

Earlier, the Utah Republican Party issued a statement by Evans that said the party was pleased that the Legislature found a way to preserve the current caucus-convention system, saying it “gives an average citizen a realistic chance of being elected to public office without having to expend great sums of money."

“While we may not fully agree on the details of the compromise, we are supportive of our Republican legislators because we believe they are acting in good faith, making the best of a difficult situation, and doing what they believe is in the best interest of Utah,” he said.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com, mromero@deseretnews.com

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