Richard Davis: Utah's parties should change nomination process

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  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2013 7:04 p.m.

    I do not favor an open caucus nor open primary. I feel that if a person aligns him/herself with a party and support the party financially and by posting signs on their property and walking the neighborhood grovelling for dollars (fund raising) and handing out flyers they should be among candidates for delegate. For those who sit at home watching reality TV or waiting for a pronouncement from ecclesiastical authority to do civic duty by attending a meeting they know little or nothing about - stay home and fight over who controls the remote. Politics is not fair, it is the orderly use of power. This is a democratic republic, representation is the key. I don't mind having the voting public wait until the general election. They don't participate in the party, so they shouldn't have a say in who winds up as the party's candidate. For the record I was in the convention that retired Senator Bennett. I took him at his word that he would serve two terms and when he decided to run for a fourth, I felt he needed time to reflect at home.

  • Trust Logic Brigham City, UT, 00
    April 3, 2013 5:27 p.m.

    My opinion: If you want to make the caucus system to work better, do two things. First, make the delegates that represent a precinct accountable. Publish who they voted for. The secret vote is essential when it is a personal vote, but we are representing a group. They should know what we did. That alone will create enough accountability to make sure the majority of Utahns are better represented.
    Second, open the caucuses to anyone. This is one thing with which i agree with the article. Do we really think we are currently preventing any malicious Democrates from partipating? Lets grow up! If you can register as a republican at the caucus and change the next day, the only thing we we are accomplishing is bigger government to deal with it and red tape. Is that the conservative way?

  • Trust Logic Brigham City, UT, 00
    April 3, 2013 5:22 p.m.

    I am a state delegate and have been a county delegate many times. Almost everyone in my precinct had an opinion on the race for senator. But, for some of the other races, like auditor, they didn't even know who was running. My conclusion: well informed voters matter and that's why the Founding Fathers made a representative republic. Can a convention be 'hi-jacked'? Yes! But so can a primary! Just look at the numbers and the sources of information! The only solution to both is participation!

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Either change or keep submitting to mob rule by extremists.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 3, 2013 12:09 p.m.

    Thanks, Richard, for another thoughtful Op-Ed. My experience last year as a delegate at county and state conventions helps to inform my enthusiasm for your point of view.

  • Jack Flagstaff MIDVALE, UT
    April 3, 2013 9:58 a.m.

    Registered voters run about 10% -- maybe 15, and that's a big maybe -- in primaries.
    Last year's convention turnout was over 90% of elected state delegates.
    The whole US political system is based on trust.
    I think I'm more inclined to trust the people who actually show up!

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    April 3, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    Amen, Richard. But why would the Republican elite change the system that keeps them and their puppets in power? This is not about fairness or even reason. It's about power. And as long as the people of this state keep voting straight-ticket Republican, a small cadre of power-brokers will control the politics in this state, including who appears on our ballots in November. Voting in Utah is very much like voting in the former Soviet Union, but not for the same reason. Here, our lack of choices is self-inflicted.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    April 3, 2013 8:06 a.m.

    85% of the registered voters in my district are "independents." Those of us that suddenly became registered Repblicans only did so in order to vote in the caucus and the primary. I have attended that meeting for years. And in the primary I once announced out loud that "no party is going to hold my hostage" and asked for the Democratic ballot. THe Republican fears of a cross-over vote were blown way out of proportion. Even with all their hoopla they couldn't get Mia Love into office over Jim Matheson. I didn't get to vote in that race but if I did, Jim would have enjoyed an additional vote. No one knows how I vote in the booth, regardless of whatever party to which I belong.

    Republicans need to look carefully and realistically at being fair and having the best to offer. That should be easy in this state with the Democratic national platform. The Repubs don't need to play games with voters minds. Their paranoia is misplaced.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    "The near monopoly on nomination decisions held by party delegates".

    Is that the same "monopoly" that voted to have a primary for the AG, voted to have a primary for the US Senate and almost voted to have a primary for our Governor when they were torn between the candidates? In 2012 we had 2 members of the State House that lost at convention, (one was a democrat) and 6 more than lost during a primary, and 2 more than lost during the general election. It seems the system is working.

    We want Fair Elections in Utah, and do not want to a system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous. Keep the Caucus System.

    You forget to mention it is also the Democrats that use the 60%/40% rule and that is a good balance. move it higher and the incumbent will almost always win and the challenger will often lose at a primary. Most challengers can't get the funding for a primary. Utah has a much better rate of fairness in elections. Look nationally and you will see what kind of power is held by incumbents.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    April 3, 2013 5:23 a.m.

    Well said, and exactly right. Thank you, Professor Davis, for this excellent and well-reasoned article. It's long past the time to get the nomination process out of the hands of the party elite at the convention, and back into the hands of the actual voters -- ALL the voters and not just those who tie themselves to a specific political party.

    Good job!

  • Rod Mann Highland, UT
    April 3, 2013 12:57 a.m.

    Actually, Bennett would not have reached a primary had the top 2 candidates from the convention made the primary, which you suggest is the best alternative. That would have been Bridgewater and Lee, the ones who did. Had Bennett reached the primary against either Bridgewater or Lee he may very well have won the primary. But would it have been because he was the best candidate or because as an incumbent he had the highest name recognition among voters and the most money to spend on 30 second sound bites.

    "Utahns should not stand for such a small group being able to determine who governs them, particularly when they can clearly do better themselves." Is it really clear they can do better? Which decision is the best one? One made by a large group of people who get their information via short ads and 2 minute newscasts or one made by a smaller group of very well informed representatives? We entrust a very small group of elected officials to make critical decisions that have long-term impact on our lives. Shouldn't we be able to trust a much larger set of representatives picked by friends and neighbors to vet candidates?

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2013 12:36 a.m.

    Yes, the Democrats have said they would look at improving the current system, but they are not going to be bullied either from this GOP insider power play.

    Jim Dabakis: (from his letter to the Democrats on their website)

    "Contrast that procedure, with no hidden agendas, to the approach of the initiative people. The initiative is a pure power play by Mike Leavitt and the powerful lobbyist, the Exoro Group, led by ultimate GOP insider LaVarr Webb (Leavitt speaking up front, Exoro manipulating from the closet) and a small group of others who are going after the Tea Party."

    "Democrats, do not be manipulated into into helping the GOP insiders in their internal war. DO NOT help the initiative–DO get involved in helping Utah Democrats decide own own future by getting involved in our review of our party’s process."

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2013 12:23 a.m.

    One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, is this: " A system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous is not acceptable."

    The problem is their proposals would do exactly that.

    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.

    There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections. Certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in voter representation.

    Bypassing the Caucus / Convention System will NOT create more participation. There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.