SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Almost all of the hundreds of Republicans running for public office or political positions in Utah have pledged their support for the GOP platform under a new litmus test imposed by the party.
The Utah Republican Party has required candidates this year to disclose on a statement if they disagree with any provision of the party's policies on abortion, gun rights and other issues.
The filings were required of those running for state and federal offices or to serve as Republican presidential electors or delegates to the national GOP convention.
Copies of the statements released online show about half a dozen of the hundreds of candidates said they disagreed with some part of the policy.
Some felt the party positions weren't conservative enough and called for an opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest or refusal to recognize any new national monument declared by the president.
Others said they felt some of the wording of the GOP platform was overly broad, unnecessarily harsh or that there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.
High-profile Republicans, including Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser all said they support the entire GOP platform, as did all members of Utah's congressional delegation.
The GOP added the disclosure rule amid fears last year that a new political nominating system could allow candidates who are not true Republicans to win nominations. The new system allows candidates to bypass the party's caucuses and conventions and instead gather voter signatures.
Some Republicans said the party shouldn't impose a litmus test, but GOP officials said they needed to protect their brand and maintain control over their nominations.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said he was concerned about proposals floated last year that would have required candidates to sit for an interview with party officials about their stance on issues. Weiler said he has no problem with the disclosure forms and likes that they would encourage candidates to read the party's platform. He said some candidates may be afraid to disclose where they differ with party positions because they worry they'd be embarrassed or even scorned by fellow Republicans.
"If you purport that you want to represent the party then the members want to know where you stand regarding our platform," said Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans.
Candidates who don't fill out the disclosure forms will have their names read aloud to GOP delegates at the party's organizing convention April 23, just before the Republicans vote on their nominees. Evans said someone who doesn't fill out a form could have their membership challenged, but that's a drawn out process that involves several hearings and the party election would be settled by that point.
Evans acknowledged that candidates could lie and feign support for the platform on the form, but he said those listing their disagreements can help spur party discussion about whether they need to change their positions.
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