A Republican legislative candidate claims Gov. Norm Bangerter may not have really received 70 percent of the Republican State Convention votes last week, which allowed him to avoid a primary election against intraparty rival Dean Samuels.
Joseph Stumph, a candidate in House District 47 in Kearns, claims several write-in votes for independent candidate Merrill Cook were not counted. If they had been, he said Bangerter may not have obtained 70 percent of the vote.Stumph had planned to file a petition in 3rd District Court Monday on behalf of Samuels' campaign to contest the convention and possibly force it to be re-held. But he decided not to file when Samuels' campaign manager, Ted Pevear, withdrew his name from the petition.
Stumph said the petition may be filed later, "but I'm just a consultant. I won't fight for people who won't fight for themselves." Samuels and Pevear could not be reached for comment.
At the convention, Bangerter received 1,502 votes (0.6 percent) and Samuels received 361 (9.4 percent). That means only 1,863 votes were cast, but 2,503 delegates were authorized to vote. So Stumph said 640 delegates either failed to vote, or voted for Cook and weren't counted.
"Merrill Cook would have only had to receive only 283 votes for Bangerter to have had less than 70 percent," Stumph said. That would have forced a primary between Bangerter and the second-place finisher.
Although Cook was not officially nominated at the convention despite attempts by tax reformers to draft him, delegates had been given peel-off stickers with Cook's name that they could paste onto computer ballots to write him in.
Stumph said several people claimed to have voted for Cook. "It's inconceivable that when more than 700 people had voted (nsuccessfully) to put his name in nomination, none would vote for him anyway."
Stumph also claims that party officials admitted Cook received several votes, and claims ballots with votes for Cook were thrown away.
But State Republican Party Chairman Craig Moody said all ballots were kept, and only one vote was officially cast for Cook because just one person punched a hole in a computer-card ballot reserved for gubernatorial candidates besides Bangerter and Samuels. Computer ballots where stickers were attached but the hole not punched may not have been counted, but were saved.
"But Stumph made no formal request to the party to find that out. He simply didn't do his homework and will have egg on his face for this. The bottom line is it wouldn't have changed the outcome," Moody said.
David Buhler, Bangerter's campaign manager, said, "It's ridiculous. Each candidate was allowed to have two people watch the counters. I was one, and I didn't see one Cook sticker.
"Even if there were some, it wouldn't have mattered because Cook wasn't a legally nominated candidate. It would be like voting for Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. What mattered is having 70 percent of the votes for legally constituted candidates. I think (he complaint) is just a publicity stunt."
Besides attacking Bangerter, Stumph in recent weeks has also been trying to oust Democratic Salt Lake County Commissioner David Watson. He filed a petition in 3rd District Court last week saying Watson should be removed because of his recent conviction of drunken driving and attempted possession of cocaine.
Earlier, Stumph - who is not an attorney, but says he has paralegal experience - acted as a consultant to former Democratic commission candidate B.T. Price who protested the way the Democratic Party replaced Watson on the ballot with Riverton Mayor Dale Gardiner.