Robert Bennett: Caucus delegates do not always honor commitments to public

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  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Nov. 26, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    Brad, your case doesn't represent the vast majority of voters as the recent mayoral elections yielded the LOWEST turn out of any election and even lower than caucus turnout.

    Our system requires us to be involved. We should be picking someone from our group of neighbors to represent us and make wise choices that effect our area. If we don't get involved or stand up for personal responsibility our government will be controlled by the loudest voices which usually are those on the extremes or those who have money with an agenda. And with this reality it won't matter what system we have as we will have lost our status as a republic.

    The caucus system is the most basic form of self government and all it takes is organizations and groups bringing people together in the community and asking people to get involved and serve. Too many people sit on the side line and try and avoid the tough choices in our system because they would rather be watching football or bachlorette and if that is the case we are setting ourselves up for a government run by technocrats and monarchs. Executive order anyone?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    Not being able to make it to the caucus meeting does NOT disenfranchise you. You still get to vote in the primary. The only function of the convention is to pick the field for the primary (which we already have, and you DO get to vote in).

    I have never been a delegate, but I'm thankful there are people interested enough to dedicate weeks of their time to study the issues and candidates and pick the 2 that will best represent our party (that's ALL the convention does).

    You still get to vote in the primary (whether you kill the convention system or not). You are not "disenfranchised" just because you didn't make it to your caucus. You still got to vote in your primary (just like all of us). You always could, you always will, whether the convention goes away or not.

    Don't let the party-boss convince you that you must do away with the current system and let THEM pick who will be on the primary ballot. We don't all need to go to the convention. But we DO all need to vote in the primary (not just 6% of us).

  • Brad Peterson South Ogden, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    2 bits,

    I have voted every primary election. Even when the primary ballot had only one item, a slot for State Treasurer. I always vote.

    I cannot attend caucuses because I have a full time job where I work evenings. This is a textbook definition of being disenfranchised.

    Primary voting is easy, you can mail in a ballot early, or you have most of the day to show up to a polling location. There's a reason why primary voting percentages are higher than caucus attending percentages.

    Caucuses are restrictive. One night only, they last a long time, and the only way to really know the delegates or to be a delegate is to attend. Not everyone is able to attend such meetings.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    Brad Peterson,
    Re: "what of us who work evenings and can't attend meetings? Or mothers who can't find babysitters?"...

    That's a red-herring. IF it's a priority for you to make it to your caucus meeting you will find a way.

    If you have these excuses why you can't attend your caucus meeting... you will use the same excuses why you can't be bothered to go vote in the primary.

    Did you vote in the most recent municipal primary election August 13th? Less than 6% in my city did.

    Obviously a primary election isn't a panacea. A primary does not insure everybody picks the party candidates (just the 6% who are motivated enough to overcome your excuses and show up to the primary... which are probably the same people who would show up at a caucus meetings anyway).

    I've yet to find a person who wants to replace caucuses with a primary, who regularly votes in their current party primary.

    Why would these people want a primary when they don't even bother to vote in the ones we have already??

  • Brad Peterson South Ogden, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    For all of you in favor of the caucus system, what of us who work evenings and can't attend meetings? Or mothers who can't find babysitters? Or those who are too sick to attend?

    We have no chance at being a delegate. We have almost no insight as to who potential neighborhood delegates will be. Our voice and vote is meaningless.

    Why is it that delegates are overwhelmingly male? Is that representative? Dan Jones has studied the priorities of primary voters and of delegates, and found the two groups do NOT share the same priorities.

    Why are you so insistent on not letting individuals like myself have the same opportunity as the rest of you? I'm in favor of the Count My Vote initiative as it makes voting both fair and open to all, something primaries should always be about.

  • Trust Logic Brigham City, UT, 00
    Nov. 26, 2013 1:04 p.m.

    Senator Bennett, I'm disappointed. You're articles are usually so thoughtful. But this makes no sense! You argue that we should go to a direct primary because there are concerns with having a secret ballot. That makes as much sense as, "I'm late for work so I should wear purple today."

    I am all for adding accountability to the delegates and publishing their votes. I have been a delegate many times and would be fine with that. But don't get rid of the caucus system for an obscure reason like that! There are better solutions!!!!!

    Too many people only focus on one race in the conventions. Senator and Governor are not the only offices affected. The direct primary that is being purposed has so many unintended consequences, it is truly scary. But it is shiny and new and people are jumping on board like lemmings! Count My Vote is looking for people who don't vet ideas or candidates! Are you one of those?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    Re: "Only the delegates want to keep the antiquated system"...

    Sal... who do you think these "delegates" are?

    YOU could be one if you had the guts to volunteer!

    They are just you and I... normal every day citizens willing to get involved in picking the party candidates.

    You make it sound like delegates political elites, or the same people every year, or once you are selected to be a delegate you are always a delegate. Nothing could be further from the truth. I've yet to see a repeat delegate in our neighborhood.

    The people who hate the caucus system seem to know almost NOTHING about it!

    If we replace the neighborhood caucus meetings and party convention with a popularity contest (on the pretense that more people would get involved IF we did that)... I'd be OK IF it did that. But currently my district gets 6% turnout for primary elections. Do you think more people will show up to the party primaries IF we just did away with the neighborhood caucus meetings first??

    I don't.

    So ~6% would be picking the party candidates and you're OK with that?

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    Of course delegates may change their minds (as Bennett did many times), especially after they have talked and listened to candidates for political office. I was a state delegate in 2010 and I promised those attending my precinct that I would not vote for Sen Bennett, and I kept my word. I was easily elected by the precinct.

    Sen Bennett is still upset that the 2010 State delegates tossed him out in favor of a primary between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee. Senator Lee won the nomination in the Republican Primary. One of the reasons that Bennett lost was because, senators (like Bennett) also fail to keep their commitments to voters. What a hypocrite.

    Bennett provided two senators from Utah. While in D.C. he was the senator that represented the lobbyists and wealthy elite, and while in Utah pretended to represent Utahns. Ignoring Utah voters caused his loss.

  • JACC Bluffdale, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    I have never been able to make more intelligent and informed votes than when I have served as a delegate. In caucus meetings I am happy to tell my neighbors my thoughts on issues and candidates, but promise only to do my best to learn more and make an informed choice. I then happily return and tell any of them who want to know how I voted and why.

    I don't have any problem at all making delegates votes public so they are accountable to their neighbors. Far better to do this than to scrap the caucus system.

  • thinking out loud SLC, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    As a 2012 state delegate, I can say assuredly that I did not know which candidates I would vote for ahead of time. I didn't even know most of them and some of them I had never heard of (which is a good thing about the caucus system because it allows unknown people to have a chance). Any preconceived notions I had of the candidates, were often changed or corrected after meeting them, hearing them speak, and asking them questions. During the caucus meeting, I said I would use certain criteria and principles to judge the candidates and that's what I did. I also sent out a letter to the caucus members so they knew how I voted and why. I know other delegates that set up a website or blog posts to inform their members. Bob Bennett, you dishonor the very delegates and system that allowed you to enjoy 18 years in office.

  • concerned conservative Cedar City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    I did exactly what my precinct asked me to do and that was to elect Mike Lee. We were all tired of bail out Bob and wanted someone to represent us that would not bankrupt our children and grand children's future.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    Orrin Hatch used the caucus system to his advantage this last election. He used his great war chest of campaign funds to stack the caucuses in his favor. The argument that a caucus system favors the unknown little guy is wrong. All it does, now that incumbents have wised up, is shift the timeline of incumbent spending. In a state like Utah, where 90% of our elected officials are GOP, the GOP candidate who wins the caucus is essentially guaranteed of winning the primary.

    Additionally, caucuses allow for the loudest and most forceful to have a disproportionate influence. Those who are loud and intimidating can overpower those who are less loud and less intimidating. Loud does not equate to wise or fair. We don't need a government of the loud, by the loud, for the loud.

    Count My Vote, now!

  • Rawhide Kid Sevier County, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    It's to bad we couldn't have ousted Hatch. He never paid attention to the delegates anyway. He bought his votes before the convention, and now ignores the will of Utahans..

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    I wonder if Bob has ever actually been to a real caucus meeting. It's different being the candidate, vs being someone at a caucus who volunteers to be a State or National convention delegate.

    The delegates should NOT be picked because they commit to vote for Bob Bennett, or Joe Canon. That would leave the people at the caucus with the responsibility to find the one individual who will vote for every candidate and every referendum item, the way they would vote. That is literally an impossible expectation.

    At my caucus meeting every person who volunteered to be a State or National delegate said that their mind was not yet made up... and I think that's good. Because I would NEVER vote for a person who said their mind was already made up (BEFORE the Convention) and they are going to vote for A, B, C and D.

    At the caucus meeting I listen to the views the volunteer has, and if they fit with my general views... I consider voting for them. But I would never vote for someone just because they promised to vote for one person at convention.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    Whether you like Sen. Mike Lee or not you should consider the following. The delegates almost eliminated him at convention.

    re: Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate of the two, Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round of voting by the delegates. If he had received 60% Tim Bridgewater would have been the party nominee and Mike Lee would have been eliminated.

    Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

    Sen. Mike Lee was the party nominee after the primary

    The Neighborhood Election and Convention system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

    We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, the wealthy or the famous. This is a good thing, and should be preserved.

  • scorealot ,
    Nov. 26, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    The most REPUBLICAN FORM OF GOVERNMENT is the caucus system. We "hire" someone to vet the candidates. They should spend hours meeting with and asking questions of the candidates and then deciding who best serves the ideals of the neighborhood. Most delegates do this rather than decide beforehand who they will pick.

    If we eliminate the caucus system, we will have SOUNDBITES AND SLOGANS as our method to vet the candidates. Big Money, and incumbents will RULE the day. We would never have had Jason Chaffetz or Mike Lee without the caucus system.

    Who is against the Caucus? Mostly, the elite. BTW, Bennett lost because he championed the Bailouts. How did that work out for us 18 Trillion later? He said it would never happen again!

    The vast majority of delegates spend COUNTLESS HOURS and MANY MEETINGS with the candidates.

    You already have significant influence with your delegate. Contact them each week to find out who they met with, what they learned, and then discuss who they are leaning toward and why.

    Or, just give in to big money, slogans, and soundbites. Because without the caucus system, that's all you'll get.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    One, the delegates do vet the candidates and they are not "bound" to a candidate. Most delegates don't say they well do any more than say they will vet the candidates and do not commit to vote for a specific one, despite the fact that Sen. Hatch tried to get them to do so.

    Most of the money spent during the convention in 2012 was for Sen Hatch to avoid a primary. The delegates did what they were supposed to do and vetted the candidates and we had a primary because enough of them felt, after watching debates and talking to the candidates, that Dan Liljenquiest was ready and would do a great job and we didn't need a US Senator in office for 42 years.

    in 2012, the filing deadline was at 5pm and the neighborhood caucus meeting was at 7pm the same day, for the GOP. The democratic meeting was 2 days earlier.

    Former Sen. Bennett should get his facts correct.

  • scorealot ,
    Nov. 26, 2013 8:25 a.m.

    The caucus system is THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL FORM OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT. You essentially "hire" someone to vet the candidates for you. How many people will really go and spend countless hours vetting the candidates? NOT MANY! It is a fallacy to believe that the representatives ALL decide beforehand who they will vote for. I say most do NOT.

    Mr. Bennett wants those with name recognition and money to win the rest of the state wide elections. We will only see sound bites and slogans from here on out if the caucus system is replaced.

    He is really frustrated that he lost BECAUSE OF THE CAUCUS SYSTEM. He lost because he was the champion of the Bailouts. Look where that got us, 18 Trillion Dollars later. He said IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

    Hire someone to vet the candidates! If you believe in a republic, keep the caucus system. If you want big money and sound bites, vote to change it.

  • Johnnyoh! ,
    Nov. 26, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    Sour grapes make bad whine.
    Remove the caucus system and give big money the ability to buy the candidate.
    The reason Bennett got tossed was he spent as big as the Democrats.
    Keep the caucus system to do otherwise shuts the door on as Hillary calls us the little people.

  • ronk-sandy SANDY, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    I am very much in favor of the Count My Vote petition. I think that it will get more people to vote. At my last caucus meeting there was a lot more attendance than past years, because of the LDS Church's request for members to be involved. However, most of these people still seemed to be sideline attendees, not willing to speak up, or more likely they were still trying to learn the caucus system. But one of the best things we could do to improve our system of government is to add term-limits to our congressional representatives. We have term-limits for the President, because we don't someone to be a power monger, why can't we do it for congress? Besides isn't there enough good people in this country that can serve? Term-limits would probably do more than anything else to get people involved with learning about their representatives if we can get a new batch of people involved every few years. Our current system just seems to perpetuate complacency when we continue to have the same people on the ballot for multiple elections.

  • 3arwax Logan, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    Do you mean that the delegates actually meet the candidates and learn about them and change their mind?

    Is this about the caucus system or Bob being upset he lost?

    (Side note, Bob's son was caught on video telling caucus attendees to lie about who they supported.)

  • Carrick Layton, 84041
    Nov. 26, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    Sour grapes, Senator Bennett, are very unbecoming.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 5:02 a.m.

    The system that brought in Senator Lee and tea party needs to leve.

    Nov. 26, 2013 4:59 a.m.

    The idea to have everyone's vote count is a very popular idea. Term limits are also a very popular idea. We should be thankful for the caucus system that made it possible to limit Bennett's (and Chris Cannon's) term. A direct primary system greatly favors incumbents. Why do people want to give up the system that makes it easer to oust a politician? Sure, Bennett is a conservative, but why does he deserve the job to be a senator for as long as he sees fit? The people should be able to decide to elect someone new.

  • Haiku Pleasant Grove, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:24 p.m.

    The caucus system
    Which rid us of Bailout Bob
    Cannot be all bad.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 10:15 p.m.

    I cast my vote for the Caucus method. It gives us as citizens an opportunity to see and hear the candidates on the grassroots level before going to convention. Ex-senator Bennett, "Caucus delegates do not always honor commitments to public" turned out in your case that the good ole' boys politics of looking like a conservative then voting like a liberal is why, sir, you were defeated! I hope more of this happens in 2014. Clean house!

    Please, let us hear now from the other side other than a defeated member of Congress.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 9:24 p.m.

    Orrin Hatch did a wonderful job of using his money and influence to stack the caucuses this last election. To state that 'big money' has less control under a caucus system is not true. Big money just needed some time to wise up on where to invest that money. In a state like Utah, where 90% of our elected representatives are GOP, whoever wins the GOP primary is virtually assured of winning the general election. All the caucus system accomplishes in this regard is shifting the timeline of big money spending. It shifts the focus to using that money to stack the caucuses.

    What a caucus really does is allow the elections to be decided by the loudest and most intimidating from each precinct. Those who speak the loudest and most forcefully end up, in most cases, having the most influence. The loudest are not necessarily the wisest nor the most honest. Ours is not intended to be a government of the loudest, by the loudest, for the loudest. Count My Vote, now!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:29 p.m.

    Either Bob Bennett was totally "out of the loop" or he is being totally dishonest. Shortly before the caucus meetings, I received several emails from his staff instructing me how to be a Bob Bennett delegate without the precinct knowing that I had total allegiance to Bob Bennett. I'm sure that I still have those emails on one of my servers. I would be happy to forward them to whoever it is in government who is responsible for honesty in elections. Several other people in my precinct received the same emails.

    No one is elected to be a "delegate" for any particular candidate. That totally violates the terms and conditions of their duty. They are charged to "vet" all candidates and then to represent the will of their precinct.

    At least one poster reported that he did as he wished. That was a total violation of his duty. He was not elected to represent his own wishes, but to represent the will of those who elected him. Shame on him for his actions. Elected officials, on any level, are duty bound to represent those who elect them to office.

  • David Centerville, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:01 p.m.

    I've signed the "Count My Vote" petition.

    Happy to have done so.

    I recommend more study this issue and cast their vote.

  • mohokat Ogden, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 4:54 p.m.

    @Steve Warren' Sounds as though you would make a good politician. I am in favor of the caucus system where small people have the same chance as the big money folks.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 3:21 p.m.

    In 2012, I was unanimously chosen as a delegate to both the county and state conventions, and I voted exactly how I wanted, regardless of the majority opinion of the people in my precincts. Bob Bennett is right.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    Delegate votes SHOULD be public information. Period. We, the caucus, should know how our neighborhood delegate voted.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 1:28 p.m.

    I believe the statement “The Constitution specifically requires that every state in the union have “a republican form of government” because the Founders were suspicious of pure democracy” is probably not true.

    As I understand it, many of the colonies were governed by church controlled governments. The notion of democracy is never seen as a possibility for a church controlled government. I doubt that the thought of democracy never occurred in the minds of the founding fathers.

    The only government that would be acceptable to the colonial governors and try to fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence would be a republic.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    speaking of not honoring campaign promises to the public ...this is exactly why Bob Bennett was ousted and Mike Lee was elected and will be re-elected...and why Orin Hatch will be tossed out the door finally.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    Mothers and fathers don't always keep their promises to their children, so therefore, we should never trust a mother or a father.


    You are obviously still sour over the caucus/mass meetings system that is more democratic and reflects more closely the will of those that care about what type of government leadership we have than the elites picking other elites to represent the masses.

    Get over it. I'm so glad we have Mike Lee representing limited government than a yes-man that you became.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Nov. 25, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    THis is the worst argument I have ever heard against the caucus system. We might as well scrap the whole republican system if this is your argument because Hatch and others have campaigned and promised many things only to not do them or to vote against them. Im sorry but i love you Bob and voted for you but the caucus system is what we need to allow citizens to be in charge of their government and bare the responsiblity of self government. Primaries turn our government into a government of techoncrats who are approved by the ruling class.

  • JenicaJessen Riverton, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    Sal- Count My Vote's website has a list of places where you can sign.

  • Gordon Jones Draper, Utah
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    I guess any stick will do.

    Bob Bennett is consulting tea leaves (but not, obviously, Tea Party leaves) in this latest screed against the caucus system. He makes statements which simply can't be verified to attack the caucus system that served him well in 1992.

    The fact is that we cannot know how the delegates selected at the caucuses were going to vote. Possibly a majority were for Cannon at that point, but there is no way to know. And if they were, and subsequently changed their minds as they got to know Bennett and Stewart better, isn't that an argument IN FAVOR of the caucuses? The delegates did exactly what they were supposed to do, whatever their pre-convention leanings: they vetted the candidates and determined that Cannon was not worthy of a convention coronation.

    And when is the last time a politician advocated elimination of the secret ballot? How out-of-touch is that? Once more Bob Bennett demonstrates the reasons we got rid of him at the convention.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Re: "Caucus delegates do not always honor commitments to public"

    That may be true, but big-money interests, making back-room deals with disingenuous politicians, don't even bother to make commitments to the public. Their commitments are strictly to their own interests.

    The only reason big money is pushing "Buy My Vote" is to benefit big money. They may be venal, corrupt, and self-interested, but they're not stupid.

    There is no good reason to abandon the caucus system, dozens of good reasons not to.

  • stuff Provo, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    Elected politicians don't always do what they promised during their campaign, either. So, should we abandon electing people?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 25, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    If a "delegate" goes into a caucus meeting with his mind made up on the candidate whom he will support, that "delegate" is in violation of his duty. His job, after being elected as a delegate, is to vet all candidates as thoroughly as possible and then, and only then, to form an opinion on which candidate best represents the precinct.

    At our last caucus, there were at least three times more people who attended. It was obvious that many were there to see that Orrin Hatch was elected. Most of them had no idea who the other candidates were in the Senate race. All they knew was that they wanted "Uncle Orrin" on the ballot. When delegates were elected, two were elected who stated that they would support Orrin Hatch. One delegate said that he would not vote for any other candidate unless Orrin Hatch were defeated in the nominating convention. The other delegate finally conceded that he would look at Hatch's record, that he would talk with the other candidates and that he would be open to suggestions from the precinct. He did his job and he did not vote for Orrin Hatch.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    Where can I sign the petition to get rid of the caucus system? Excellent article and another nail in the caucus coffin. Only the delegates want to keep the antiquated system.

  • goatesnotes Kamas, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    I tell you about one caucus delegate who kept his word to his constituents - I promised them I would vote for Mike Lee and that's exactly what I did. Bennett is still replaying his embarrassing loss and hasn't figured it out yet.