Comments about ‘Richard Davis: Still not too late to reform nomination process’

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Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

Why Keep the Utah Neighborhood Caucus and Convention System?

The caucus system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous. This is a good thing.

Our only problem with voter turnout is it has not kept up with the population increase. The voter turnout keeps going up but not as fast as the population. Some of that is the younger voters, where Utah has a larger percentage of them and they aren't, as a group, as involved. Some of that are those moving in and not understanding our system.

Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate.

Based on the state gop released stats since 2000 for state wide or congressional races, at 60%, threshold to avoid a primary, 1/2 of contested races went to primary. If at 2/3, 67% of contested races go to a primary and at 70%, 70% of the races go to primary.

70% would not have helped Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

Sen. Hatch just barely missed eliminating Dan Liljenquist by hitting just under the 60%, and Jason Chaffetz just missed eliminating Chris Cannon by hitting just under 60%.

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

If Mr. Davis wants to promote pure Democracy, he's in the wrong country. We have Democratic Republic. We vote for others to represent us in the political process. The Caucus is where everything starts. If he and everyone else would understand that simple concept, there would be no problem. Instead, he and most of the voters want to do absolutely nothing until there is a primary. Just how do they propose that names be placed on the primary ballot? How many costly run-off elections do they want the public to hold before only two candidates are left. Just how much influence do they want the incumbant to have over the challenger?

Just look at what's happened in the Senate when an incumbant was returned to office. Senator Hatch didn't read the immigration bill, but that didn't stop him from telling us that he had solved the problem because "the fence would be built". Mike Lee read the bill and voted against it.

We can see the mistake of returning an incumbant to Congress. How many more times will that mistake be made? That mistake would be made every time in a direct primary.

Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

Mike,
The interesting point is we do have primaries.

In 2012 Utah, we had primaries: Hatch/Liljenquist, Dougall/Johnson, Swallow/Reyes, McCartney/Valdez, Okerlund/Painter, Vickers/Anderson, Perry/Galvez, Redd/Butterfield, Anderegg/Moore, Handy/Crowder, Macdonald/Bagley, Sagers/McCoy, Kennedy/Nitta, Muniz/Henrickson, Stratton/Murray, Christofferson/Kane, Greene/Stevens, Layton/Daw, Nelson/Wright, Westwood/Carling, and Crockett/Winder, to name a few. Not every race had a primary nor should it. Most of those were GOP primaries.

In fact, the Utah GOP has had primaries for 1/2 of all contested statewide or congressional races for the last decade. 30 of 44 races were contested and 15 of the 30 had primaries.

The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate.

Raising the threshold back will add more races to primaries, but it eliminates the potential of an incumbent losing.

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.

Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

The other interesting point is we already have a bypass system.

We already have a "bypass" system. It is called filing as an unaffiliated candidate. You go straight to the general election. So if Mr. Jowers, or Mr. Leavitt don't think they can win if vetted by average citizens asking one on one questions. They can run that way and spend the money. Why should they be a party nominee if they are going to bypass the party?

If you are going to run as a Democratic candidate, you have to comply with their rules. If you are going to run as a Republican, you have to comply with their rules. If you want to run and not have those rules, you can run as an unaffiliated or independent, or run as a 3rd party candidate. “Count My Vote” is attempting to change all party rules by changing state laws by initiative, thus bypassing the political parties and the Legislature.

When people realize this "Count My Vote initiative will give them less of a chance to participate but give media and power brokers more power, they will not sign any initiative.

ChiMed
South Jordan, UT

I know he posts almost the same thing every time the caucus system is mentioned, but something Utah_1 said in his first post bears examination. He states that we younger voters aren't involved as a group, which in my experience is true. However, he claims that this happens at least in part because we don't understand the system. Actually, most of us don't participate because the caucus/convention system is hostile to us.

Due to schooling, etc., it's safe to assume that a very high percentage of those under 30 will not stay in the same precinct for two years, and therefore cannot be delegates. Our mobility also ensures that during the caucus, we will probably have to vote for people we have never met and will never see again, whose views and trustworthiness we cannot know. We are reduced to spectators, unable to participate in the political process until the candidates are already anointed by the parties.

Our inability to participate means that as long as the caucus/convention system exists in its current form, Utah's political system will forever disenfranchise the rising generation.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "But the benefits of primaries . . . [is] . . . extremist candidates would be disadvantaged."

Now we get to the real nub of the Prof's argument -- he wants machine politics to rule in Utah.

That way, no "insurgent," one with the interest of Utah's real people, could ever get into politics and discomfit the political hacks and their supporting special interests. He'll have to be a party man and wait his turn behind all the other political hacks, by which time, he'll have forgotten who he actually represents.

And, as we've seen, that system works so well on the national scene.

Not.

Support for scrapping our current, grass-roots system is support for party machine politics, pure and simple.

dalefarr
South Jordan, Utah

I disagree with the author. Given the burdensome (and in my view contrary to our State's Constitution) limits imposed on initiative petitions by our one party legislature, change is impossible.

Ford DeTreese
Provo, UT

Richard, stop being reasonable. It annoys the extremists.

Mike, you're still irrelevant.

procur, no the Prof doesn't want machine politics. He wants more moderate politicians, who might actually govern rather than shooting spit wads at the other party and mostly just making a mess on the Capitol walls.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . the Prof doesn't want machine politics. He wants more moderate politicians . . . ."

That's just liberal newspeak for "he wants machine politics."

Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT

I, too, disagree with the learned professor. I am in favor of the caucus system for many of the above stated reasons. I think that the general public can become as involved as they want to be, and attendance at neighborhood caucus meetings or participation in primary or general elections proves it.

We have a generation of "I don't care" people who just don't care about politics enough to take time to get involved in a party. They want it all, at no expense and no involvement beyond hearing a sound bite or information on a flyer.

Perhaps the good professor is chapped that he didn't get elected delegate last time around or that his enlightened pronouncements were ignored by the unwashed masses he so patiently tried to persuade to his point of view.

In the last general election I spent quite a few hours going to small meetings, meeting and hearing candidates for various offices. Some I voted for won, some lost but I made time to get involved. Political parties are private organizations, let them choose their candidates by their rules or form your own party and run in the general election.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The problem isn't whether or not it's too late to change the nomination process. The problem is.. you haven't suggested a good alternative yet.

You propose a law that there must always be 2 Republican nominees coming out of the convention for each position. Well... are you willing to pass the same law for Democrats?

It's far more unusual for two Democrats to come out of their Convention and have to face off in a Primary. Most of the time the Democrat candidate runs "unopposed"!

When was the last time Jim Matheson had to win a Democrat Primary? He's ran unopposed every time except on in his whole political career!

If you are going to require Republicans always have the top 2 vote getters face off in a Primary (even if one only gets 10% at convention)... then make it illegal for Democrats to run unopposed.

If Republicans must have 2 candidates for every position... then so should Democrats.

Informed Voter
South Jordan, UT

Long live the caucus system. GOP establishment folks are wanting change primarily because Bennett got bounced, and he deserved it. Consider what Hatch, as a long term incumbent who knows better than the People, in voting for the immigration bill that he did not read but had a hand in producing. He voted for it even with gross amendments that were added later to protect his stature with the establishment and the good old boy network in the senate.

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