Deidre Ann Tyler is a black Republican who filed to run against Sen. Eddie Mayne, D-West Valley.
But she got out of the District 11 race a week after she got in, saying Monday the Utah Republican Party "certainly is not a big tent" that welcomes different kinds of people, who either look differently or have different opinions on what is a Republican.Tyler is originally from Mississippi, where she said she ran for the state Legislature as a conservative Democrat in 1991. She didn't win. "I was too conservative for them," she said.
When she moved to Utah shortly thereafter, she decided to become a Republican. But, she said, she didn't find herself very welcome in that party, either.
"When you tell a black person (in Utah) that you're a Republican, they ask you why. Why would you do that? When you tell a white person you are a Republican, they can't understand, either."
Tyler said she got out of the state Senate GOP race, where she faced a challenge from fellow Republican Duane Torsak, "because I didn't have the money, especially the support" to continue the race. She says she didn't feel welcome in the county Republican Party.
"There is just a very strange feeling" when she told fellow Republicans that she was running for office "as a black Republican in this state and county."
Spencer Stokes, state Republican Party executive director, said he has not met Tyler and feels badly that she's dropped out of the race. He disputed her claim about the Utah party, saying there is a black Republican who is on the state party's recruiting committee and the man certainly feels comfortable in the party.
"We are a big tent if you believe in basic Republican Party principles. If you don't, then, no, there may not be room for you in the tent," Stokes said.
Utah currently has one black legislator out of 104 lawmakers, Rep. Duane Bourdeaux, D-Salt Lake. In the past, it had one black representative, Robert L. Harris of Ogden, and one senator, Terry Williams, who served from 1982-86 first in the House from Salt Lake City and then in the state Senate. Williams ran unsuccessfuly for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1986.