The chairman of the Davis County Republican Party said he wants to repair rifts in the county's conservative ranks and bring supporters of the tax initiative and independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook "back into the fold."
Steve Smoot, Farmington, said, "We will reach out to them and hopefully they will come back to the Republican ranks. A lot of them were upset about the hard decisions that the governor had to make. Some of them divorced themselves from the party over one issue or another. I honestly believe they will come back into the fold."Smoot has his work cut out for him, particularly in north Davis County, where many disenchanted Republicans cast ballots for both the initiatives and Cook. A majority of districts in Clearfield, Layton, South Weber and Sunset carried the initiatives.
On the whole, county voters cast 42 percent of their ballots for Initiative A, 41 percent for Initiative B, and 31 percent for Initiative C. County voters also cast 25 percent of their ballots for Cook. All of those figures, except the percentage of votes cast for initiative C, were higher than the state average.
Already, Smoot is quick to emphasize what positive effects Cook's candidacy and tax initiative movement had on the electoral process.
"I honestly felt that even though a lot of the voters that would have voted for Cook would have voted Republican, Cook helped to spell out the issues so clearly to the people - that of taxation, that of the initiatives, that of government spending." Smoot said. "I hope with how close the initiatives were it sent a message to legislators about tax increases down the road."
While he seeks to build bridges with tax limitation supporters, he stills sees a strong unwavering Republican support in the county. He credits high voter turnout among conservative Davis County voters for helping keep Gov. Norm Bangerter in office.
"We had about 28,000 more registered voters turn out and vote in 1988 compared to 1986. It had a major effect. For example, in the governor's race, (Bangerter) had a plurality of 43 percent compared to 31 percent for most places. That was approximately 9,000 votes. If there had been a shift for Wilson, Wilson probably would have won," Smoot said.
In the election of at least one county commissioner, William "Dub" Lawrence, Smoot said he wants "wait-and-see" how he performs after he takes office in January. Time will only tell whether the Centerville Democrat-turned-Republican has really donned that garb of the GOP elephant.
"The jury is still out to see if he builds the party," Smoot said.
Smoot called the black cloud of allegations against Republican commissioners that has loomed over this election "politically motivated." The ongoing battle between commissioners and the county auditor and the legal complaint against two commissioners has drawn criticism from Democrats that there is a need for checks and balance in the Republican-controlled County Courthouse.
"You in essence have to new commissioners. I believe that they are going to be able to work together and work out some of the problems that have been haunting them," Smoot said. To the Democrats' call for more checks and balances, he said he believes it exists in the Republican Party, particularly from right-wing activists.
Smoot agreed that the flak Davis Republican leaders have received has changed the nature of Davis County politics. For one thing, it has deterred some qualified people from seeking office. He doesn't believe, however, that Davis County politics has changed to the point where big-league ways of governing have moved in.
"I like the rural way of doing things. It may be a little slow-moving, but they (elected officials) aren't out there figuring out a million and one ways how to spend our money. They have taken the conservative route," he said.