Rep. Brent Haymond might mount a write-in campaign this fall to reclaim the Utah House of Representatives seat he lost in convention this month.
"I'm looking at it," the Springville Republican said this week.Former Independent American Party member J. Matthew Throckmorton unceremoniously dumped Haymond at the Utah County GOP convention. Throckmorton, who ran an unsuccessful state Senate campaign two years ago, scored 84 percent of the delegate votes to dispose of the eight-year veteran lawmaker without a primary election.
Haymond was in China on business for two weeks and didn't woo many, if any, delegates prior to the May 2 convention. He said he had three or four people helping him contact them. He also was out of town during neighborhood caucus meetings in March.
The "ultra-right" Republicans marshaled against him at the grass-roots level don't reflect the views of most of the district's constituents, Haymond said, adding he doesn't like select delegates' ability to control the outcome.
"I think it's a problem with the whole election process. People aren't attending the mass meetings anymore," Haymond said.
Haymond said he favors open, partisan primary elections rather than a convention in which delegates elect nominees. The state needs to move to that so candidates have to be "upfront" and voters can find out what they really believe, he said.
Haymond said he'll decide whether to declare himself a write-in candidate after the June 23 primary election. He said he wants to see how Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and other local incumbents fair against extremely conservative opponents.
Computer balloting makes write-in campaigns difficult, said Spencer Stokes, state GOP executive director.
"In the old days of paper ballots, some people did win write-in campaigns. There was even a U.S. Congressman from California who won a write-in campaign. But in recent times of computer ballots, I can't think of someone (in Utah) who has won a write-in campaign," said Stokes, a former chief deputy in the Weber County clerk's office.
Voters don't write the person's name on the ballot anymore. They have to write it on the grey "secrecy envelope" that covers the actual ballot placed in the box. Sometimes there aren't pencils in the polling booth because voters use a punch key to vote. Voters must not only write the candidates' name on the envelope, but the office he or she is seeking, Stokes said.
And while a write-in candidate can make up stickers with his or her name and office on it, state law prohibits campaigning within a certain distance - like 125 feet - from the polling place, Stokes said. The distance might put write-in campaigners so far away that they can't pass out stickers to people walking to the ballot booth from a parking lot.
Haymond realizes the difficulties write-in candidates face, and said he'd have to run two campaigns: one to teach people how to vote and another to tell them who to vote for.