Challenge to caucus system to dominate state GOP convention

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  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    Based on the state gop released stats since 2000 for state wide or congressional races, at 60%, threshold to avoid a primary, 1/2 of contested races went to primary. If at 2/3, 67% of contested races go to a primary and at 70%, 70% of the races go to primary.

    I had 47% earlier vs 1/2.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 13, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    Bob Bennett was taken down at a caucus by the Tea-Party people that showed up at the caucuses. That caucus in 2010 was done without proper controls in place for people that were not registered for the caucus. Senator Bennett was definitely one that was caught off-guard at wht the FreedomWorks type groups were doing. Senator Hatch doesn't appear to be on the inside with FreedomWorks that spent over $600K against Hatch. They may have a way with candidates at caucuses but even last time there was an effort to disarm the Chris Stewart campaign with disruptive people in their district meeting and even in the open convention. Caucuses provide a medium that still allows Primaries. Primaries in June at not the best timing as the campaigning has to be quick. Media and publicity firms have not developed the best plan for the bucks they take in. Money still buys GOP party officers as one candidate's company has put up $100K to in that top position. House boats on Lake Powell is an incentive for being an officer and candidate. Perks are still alive for John Swallow to take advantage of defending out state.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    May 13, 2013 12:31 a.m.


    Further, most of us want to be able to decide on and vote for our candidate of choice, rather than go "elect" some other candidate to do it all for us. Believe it or not, voters are intelligent persons, able to read, write, search the internet, and decipher information.

    Our job as voters is to pick the candidate to represent us, not as you assert, prepare candidates to further their political aspirations and careers. Another disagreement with the caucuses is that candidates manage to fill them with their friends and puppets to bully others into acquiescence. That sounds a lot like some warnings from a certain King Benjamin to me.

    I am unhappy with the cronyism is caucuses and the cronyism in Utah politics. I don't believe the primary system is perfect, or that the caucus is entirely bad. Unfortunately the caucuses are much better in theory than they are in practice. I just want Utahns to be able to vote for the candidates who will represent us and run the government, rather than a few elites who caucuses select to be delegates at a convention that few Utahns ever know anything about choosing everyone.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    May 13, 2013 12:22 a.m.

    David, et al:

    David said, "Caucuses aren't held in secret and the information about where and when they are held is widely available. No less easy to find than where to vote in the general election."

    I never said they were held in secret, but I did say I've seen persons who wanted to participate civilly thrown out, which shocked many in attendance. The caucuses haven't been easy to find. So that everyone can find them, I've heard that they are listed on the respective party websites. However, no mention of them is on the county websites, where we can easily find out where to vote. Even Google couldn't help me find out where my caucus was a couple years ago when going to the party web site to elect a public representative hadn't occurred to me. Judging from caucus attendance and subsequent low voter turn-out, I'd say most Utahns are disenfranchised. That bothers me.

  • tgadd435 Park City, UT
    May 12, 2013 7:10 p.m.

    Why would I send a delegate to a convention to vote for me when I can go to the polls and vote myself. We all know that some of the delegates just do whatever they want. The delegates are not bound by the people in their neighborhood. The caucus system was great in 1903 when you couldn't run another election. But, now that we don't ride horses or rely on the Pony Express it is absurd. All you have to do is look at how hard the radicals in the party are holding onto this power. George Washington once said the hardest vote for someone to make is the vote to reduce their own power. Philpot isn't ready to do that, that's why he's never won an election.

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2013 7:03 p.m.

    No matter what the system I bet the results will be the same. The GOP will nominate a white, LDS male who will win the general election in a landslide.

  • David Paulsen Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2013 6:04 p.m.

    sherlock holmes,

    We are already seeing the negative impacts of primaries the primary system in our country. We are seeing the breakdown of civility and the polarization of our society. We are seeing the mentally unhealthy outlook that so many people possess manifesting itself. Contrary to what you may believe caucuses serve a fundamental human function. Socialization of society and government. Personalizing it and keeping it within a framework of people.

    We have to grapple with real issues and resolve differences with people we know and care about or have to live with. This comes in handy when some go on to seek office where they have to deal with people we do not know or care about personally. Their minds are in the right place. They generally do not have an overly adversarial or contemptuous attitude of others.

    You say we should just try it. Why should we try disenfranchising people? Why should we go from a system where ordinary people actively participate in a core function of governments to one where all they do is cast a single solitary vote?

    We already have that power in general elections.

    You aren't adding to instead you take away

  • David Paulsen Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2013 5:27 p.m.


    That isn't what anyone is saying but your comment shows the contempt you have for others and the reason why a caucus system among many other community organizations is essential for a free society. No one is saying low information voters shouldn't participate or get informed instead they are saying the low information voter meeting with neighbors choose the person they trust to represent them while they gain the knowledge and experience they need to do the same if they choose.

    You place way too much emphasis on the vote and not on the process and the benefits of the process. The empowerment and education of a free people in the affairs of their government which primaries don't do and caucuses do. Not every person will hold public office before running for public office. The caucus system provides them the skills, knowledge and their contacts to do that without having to sell out to the "powers that be."

    You are the one with the attitude you detest. Your vote is the only right one therefore you don't have to lower yourself to go to a meeting with inferiors when you can just go vote

  • David Paulsen Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2013 5:13 p.m.


    Caucuses aren't held in secret and the information about where and when they are held is widely available. No less easy to find than where to vote in the general election. There are those who are seeking to undermine the principle of representative government and to tear the community out of politics. Each man goes to the polls to vote by himself. We do not want neighbors meeting with neighbors to elect one of them to choose their candidate. They don't want them in the same room unless they are waiting in long lines twiddling their thumbs.

    "We seriously need change; we seriously need to re-enfranchise Utah voters. Abandon caucuses!"

    You are advocating the opposite. The disenfranchisement of people. Caucuses, unlike the primary, is about people meeting with neighbors and gaining the skills to work within a political system. If voting is the definition of the franchise you are right but that's not the definition of franchise. It's a narrow part of it

    Excesses of democracy and limits on representative and community lead to mental illness. Causes enfranchises a person because it empowers them. Advocates of primaries want them out of sight and mind.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    May 12, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    Many say "primary elections are just places where low-information voters get mind-controlled by wealthy advertisers."

    What they're really saying is "my neighbors are ignoramuses and deserve to be disenfranchised; I'm the only one 'informed' enough to deserve a vote. The 'ignorant' should stay out of this and let me and my pals run the show-- and anyone who doesn't agree with me is ignorant."

  • Vaughn J Kearns, UT
    May 12, 2013 3:23 p.m.

    The issue in my mind is not just low participation but the fact that the primary and general election is determined by sound bites and money. Electing representative in the precincts to take our views to the convention is the best way to get the best candidate selected. If those that decide to be delegates will devote the time to go and hear each candidates views, ask pertinent questions, and carefully consider the individuals views and demeanor; then the best candidate will/can reach the primary general elections.
    The primary system is a very expensive and wasteful process for either party/candidate. From being involved in the last cycle I saw the waste in the senatorial campaign when Hatch barely missed being selected at the convention. Under this system the organizations outside of Utah can pump money into campaigns to disrupt the process that we as Utahans should be concerned about. My take on this election was that Lilenquist represented the same coalition that Mike Lee did/does and that his extremist views and his freshman status would have impacted Utah's ability to make any significant progress.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    May 12, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    The caucuses I've attended have been laughable. They have been completely controlled by a small number of loudmouthed, extremist bullies who have literally shouted down anyone who tried to express more moderate views.

    It is painfully obvious that Utah's GOP caucuses are rigged and controlled by people like Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop, and now Jason Chafetz and Mike Lee.

    It's absolutely ridiculous to call this "grass roots." It's more like "poison ivy roots."

    May 12, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    Count My Vote should not negotiate with these elitist, "we know better than the people" party leaders. There are plenty of people who want to take the party back from the current system where the loudest most strident bully voices have perverted the secret ballot one-man one-vote principle.

    The party elite's opinion of the voters is insulting. The idea that purchased outside influence will take control is out of date in a web saturated world. Anyone with a message and a little bit of tech savy can get the message out at next to no cost.

  • sherlock holmes Eastern, UT
    May 12, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    The caucus system needs to go. It has outlived it usefulness. Do you like reading about and trying to understand the Iowa caucuses? Utah's system is viewed the same way.

    For those who support the caucus system, I suggest this: Let's try a closed primary election in 2014 or 2016. It wouldn't be that hard. All one needs to set is a declaration date, a primary date, a runoff date. Forget all of those caucuses, county conventions, state conventions. Let candidates connect with ALL the people using whatever mode they want. Let ALL the voters have a say. Try it for a year, see how it works (or doesn't work).

    If you are afraid to try something new, nothing changes. Hardly a good solution in this day and age where everything changes and usually improves.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    May 12, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    Those opposed to the proven benefits of the caucus system seem to fall into a few groups:

    a. Incumbents with name recognition and deep pockets to advertise who hope to fool voters again after becoming nothing but hack politicians.

    b. Media empires standing to profit handsomely from advertising money if primaries replace the caucuses.

    c. Special interest groups able to dump a ton of money into a race to mislead the "low information voters" who make up too much of the electorate these days.

    The core of the caucus system is the locally elected delegate with the interest and concern to take the time to meet and study all candidates, and get to know the details of their beliefs and character and ability to serve in office. These delegates are not easily swayed by slick advertising after meeting personally with a candidate.

    Keep the caucus system! Even though the media monopoly, party bosses, and moneyed special interest groups hate it.

    People can still vote for another party's candidate if they don't like the ones selected by the Republican caucus. But, many of the complainers are closet Democrats anyway.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    May 12, 2013 4:05 a.m.

    Ridding Utah of the caucus system could involve many more Utahns in the election process. I've tried to attend every caucus meeting, but had trouble learning when and where it's held. I've seen persons who wanted to participate thrown out without reason. Going to the meetings, I've seen countless people outside in their yards--not because they wanted to leave all the decisions to someone else, but because the parties go out of their way to avoid having the electorate know how and where to participate in the election process.

    Organized and outside political groups have disenfranchised Utah voters. A primary would go a long way to re-enfranchise voters. Grass roots candidates can get their message out; they don't necessarily have to outspend incumbents.

    Above all, the current system is not working and Utahns have been unable to participate. We need change. The State went to a caucus system because a politician who couldn't win a primary had the backroom strength to change us to a caucus system, even though voters didn't back him. We seriously need change; we seriously need to re-enfranchise Utah voters. Abandon caucuses!

  • Cherilyn Eagar Holladay, UT
    May 12, 2013 1:51 a.m.

    With the 60% threshold, 47% of the time candidates in contested races go to a primary run-off. This brings a balance between candidates nominated at the convention and those that go to a primary run-off.

    If we were go raise that threshold to 2/3, candidates would go to a primary run-off 67% of the time. Balance is everything.

    More important, this entire debate is about whether we want to allow big DC lobbyists to control Utah's elections. Their clients include the Democratic National Convention, Steve Colbert and his SuperPAC created to mock Republican candidates. They are the ones that take credit for the great campaign finance debacle called McCain-Feingold that gives advantage to the rich candidates who are allowed self-fund with no limits (people such as ... McCain), while the little guys are limtted to $2,500 per donation. cont...

  • Constitutional_Conservative CEDAR CITY, UT
    May 11, 2013 10:41 p.m.

    Yes lets get rid of the caucus system so that D.C. lobbyists can determine our elections. In a primary the candidate with the biggest bank account and most name ID wins. There are too many voters for the candidate to meet with 1 on 1 or even in town hall settings. This causes the candidate who can buy the most advertising to win.

    This is why it's so crucial to have delegates elected by their neighbors who trust their judgement to go and thoroughly vet these candidates. They have one on one discussions with the candidates and thoroughly vet them. They ask tough questions of the candidates to ensure they represent the views of them and their neighborhood.

    More primaries does not mean more participation. More primaries means more TV ad's, more mass mailers, more negative campaigning, more autodialers. The caucus system works, don't fix what isn't broken.

    We are the best managed state for a reason, the reason is that we have a Jeffersonian republic called the Utah Caucus System.

  • Jack Flagstaff MIDVALE, UT
    May 11, 2013 8:38 p.m.

    Y'know, it really won't. Yes, it's on everybody's lips, but the off year conventions are about choosing the best leadership for the Party. Been doing these for 10 years now, it's always the same -- lots of hype about something or another, but when the day comes, we are at candidate booths talking, deciding, electioneering.
    We are nowhere near as dumb or as narrow-minded as some people would like you to believe.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 11, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate.

    Based on the state gop released stats since 2000 for state wide or congressional races, at 60%, threshold to avoid a primary, 47% of contested races went to primary. If at 2/3, 67% of contested races go to a primary and at 70%, 70% of the races go to primary.

    70% would not have helped Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

    Sen. Hatch just barely missed eliminating Dan Liljenquist by hitting just under the 60%, and Jason Chaffetz just missed eliminating Chris Cannon by hitting just under 60%.

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

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 11, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, was 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.

  • Dave Duncan Orem, UT
    May 11, 2013 7:30 p.m.

    The statement about the resolution the central committee approved is inaccurate. It said we should INVESTIGATE those things. Not necessarily implement them.

    Chairman Wright has latched onto that resolution as if it were his lifeline.

    What this is really about is letting big money lobbyists buy the primaries with their advertising dollars. It is easy to see why newspapers and TV stations are routing for the path that generates more political advertising dollars.