The Republican Party's anti-Norm Bangerter faction made itself publicly known last Saturday during the Salt Lake County GOP Convention.
When Bangerter's name was mentioned by speakers, noticeable boos and catcalls were heard. Finally, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, told the convention delegates to behave themselves and be polite.The dissenters were in the minority. Bangerter was cheered and given several standing ovations by the vast majority of county delegates. But the fact that a sitting governor was booed by some of his own party wasn't, and shouldn't, be ignored.
Most, but not all, of the Republicans who oppose the governor adhere to the tax limitation principles - the two petitions now being circulated that would roll back 1987's $160-million tax hike and limit property tax and government growth.
The bad feelings between the governor and the tax protest leaders started early, when Bangerter suggested a $200-million tax increase in December 1986, and has grown more bitter with time.
When Bangerter refused to reverse his support for the tax increases, the break was final and tax limitation leaders started searching for someone to run against Bangerter.
They found Merrill Cook, who entered the race as an independent. Cook says he will cut state government and taxes if he is elected governor. Cook, who was a Republican before filing as an independent, says he's staying out of internal GOP politics.
But it is clear his supporters, many of whom are Republicans, are getting involved in party politics. There is nothing wrong with that. The political process, and party processes, should be open to anyone.
However, the tack that the tax limitation advocates are taking may prove destructive to one major goal of any political party - getting a candidate elected to office.
Many of the GOP tax protesters are backing Dean Samuels, an educator who is challenging Bangerter for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Samuels is barely a blip on the public opinion polls. He has little chance of beating Bangerter in a GOP primary election and almost no chance of beating Democrat Ted Wilson in the final election.
Anyway, most tax protesters would desert Samuels in the final election and vote for their real favorite, Cook.
Still, they hope Samuels can get at least 31 percent of the delegate vote in the State GOP Convention June 10-11 and thus force Bangerter into a primary election.
What is gained by this is unclear.
Certainly, not being able to knock off Samuels in the convention would be an embarrassment to Bangerter.
And it could send a message to him and the Republican hierarchy that some rank-and-file party workers are upset with the governor.
But, hey, the man has received that message already, as have party leaders.
It will be a long, long time before a Republican governor or Republican legislative leaders support any kind of tax increase. If they haven't learned that these past two years, they haven't learned anything and never will.
A primary election would only harm Bangerter's chances against Wilson and Cook. He already has enough problems in the final election and one would think that true Republicans wouldn't want to make it any more difficult for him.
Dissent should be heard in every political party. And it is clear that Republican tax limitation advocates feel they've been shunned by the Republican hierarchy. Perhaps they have room for complaint.
There's a difference between dissent and obstruction. That difference may be seen at the state GOP convention.