I'm eating my words — Utah's caucus system now has my vote

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  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    Think of the caucus system as a way to cull the herd. Most of the time it works. In some cases, it doesn't (John Swallow comes to mind). I agree that the caucus system is reflective of our Representative Republic. Contrary to what most of you think, we do not live in a Democracy. If we did the majority would rule and would be allowed to do what they wanted. This author reflects the additude of someone who actually participated and now understands the process.

    By the way Ranch Hand, since when did you care what the Republicans do?

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    Those who claim the caucus system will continue to exist haven't thought it through. With SB 54 in place, what serious candidate (someone like Bob Bennett, for example) is going to take the chance that a convention loss will end his or her candidacy? Every serious candidate will choose to participate in the primary election, with the end result being that the convention becomes merely a sideshow, an inconvenience, a bump along the way to the primary. Within a short time, the caucus/convention route will be seen as nothing more than a nuisance, and will become obsolete.

    A lot of people think that's wonderful. I think it's a mistake. The caucus system gives little guys a chance. The primary system guarantees that only the rich and well-connected have any chance.

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    SB 54 will lead to the complete demise of the caucus system in Utah. In its place will rise the primary system, a system in which only the candidates with access to money - their own or someone else's - have a chance to win. And Utah's political system will slowly degenerate as a result.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    May 12, 2014 7:09 a.m.

    I don't need a representative to choose my representative! Sorry, I went to my caucus and wouldn't of voted and ended up not voting for any of the delegates for my area. It took over 2 hours of my time and my wife had to stay home with the kids so her views were not counted either.

    What's the gripe about? Those who prefer the caucus system get to keep it to get their candidates on a ballot and the rest of us can help get our candidates on a ballot by signatures and then we have an old fashioned election where everyone can vote!

    Its sour grapes. A deal is a deal otherwise the CMV supporters would get the sighatures needed and change this antiquated system at the ballot box.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    May 11, 2014 12:25 a.m.

    RanchHand, the caucus issue was divisive for liberals in this state too, and as with the Republicans, the extremists who held power- in the Democrats' case Jim Dabakis and co - wanted to cling to that power and continue disenfranchising the more moderate majority of rank and file members.

    Also, many problems with Utah politics are mirrored with inverted colors in other places throughout the country where Democrats have effective single party rule and therefore aren't held very accountable to the people while the few Republicans are dominated by a few extreme insiders.

    Nationwide the Democrats are, despite all their clamoring about power to the people, the less democratic party, largely because of their insistence that the public in communities and counties and states and the nation shouldn't be able to make their own decisions but that the sensibilities of Hollywood, San Francisco, and a handful of unelected judges should overrule everyone and dictate the lives and standards of every community. But that's a topic for another day.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 10, 2014 11:56 p.m.

    Mike Richards,

    Yes, the US is a Republic. But we vote directly for both our representatives and senators. So why not do so prior to the general election? Why should we vote via others at one stage but not at another? Using the logic that we are a republic and should vote indirectly, then should we not do so in ALL elections at ALL levels of govt. (including local)?

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 10, 2014 8:35 p.m.

    It's kinda fun to watch the usual conservative suspects, usually on the same side of an issue, eating one another for breakfast. :)

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    May 10, 2014 6:10 p.m.

    gadzooks, I could swear I wrote 3500 not 35. My typo.

    Here in Utah County our county caucus just overthrew the will of the people as shown in previous elections by ousting our County Commissioner and replacing him with a supposed "REAL FISCAL CONSERVATIVE," Greg Graves. His sole qualification was being a schoolteacher who listens to Sean Hannity on the radio.

    Since the caucus no-primary threshold is absurdly low and everyone figured running as anything other than a Republican would lose in November, he will be unopposed on the ballot, and barring a massive write-in campaign he will be the county commissioner.

    Turns out this guy who ran on his supposed superior ability to manage county finances has had multiple bankruptcies and some interesting misdemeanors. He will be a serious liability to the county.

    So much for the caucus system's supposed superiority at vetting candidates.

    If SB54 had been in effect this year, this would have gone to a primary, and the general public would not have been so easily bamboozled as these gullible delegates.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 10, 2014 6:01 p.m.

    'I'm eating my words — Utah's caucus system now has my vote'

    Absolutely, in Utah you gotta go along to get along, right?

    You can't ignore the power structure, which consists now of Tea Party Politicians (Koch brothers's employees) and several million successfully propagandized citizens controlled by the Right Wing Hive mind.

    The Koch brothers love the Caucus system in Utah that reliably delivers Tea Party candidates.

    So fall in line people.

  • Duckhunter Highland , UT
    May 10, 2014 5:36 p.m.

    I love the caucus system, it is democracy at the most basic level, true grass roots. Those that oppose it either do not understand it or oppose it because it is the method closest to the people despite their dishonesty trying to claim it isn't. I laugh every single time I hear some person say it is "elitist" when in fact it is anything but.

  • mcdugall Murray, UT
    May 10, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    @Mike Richards - Please elaborate how the caucus system follows the "rules" of a Republic versus that of a Democracy.

  • bill in af American Fork, UT
    May 10, 2014 4:07 p.m.

    I've been a delegate numerous times and enjoy involvement in the political process, but I am in the camp with those that are not happy with the caucus system. The far right has been too much in control of the process which restricts moderate republican views (which most Utahns are). All you had to do is look at the resolutions passed at the last Republican state convention to see how far out of touch the delegates are with common sense Utahns. The current Republican party is no longer my party. Call me an independent.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    May 10, 2014 4:01 p.m.

    PeanutGallery, if you think delegates represent constituents, you're off your rocker. Time after time polls show caucus delegates are totally out of touch with rank and file party members.

    35 delegates are certainly a select few compared to the 2 MILLION eligible voters in Utah. Why should 0.2% of eligible voters make the decisions for everybody else?

    Mike Richards, so I guess you think we should eliminate all elections? People should be totally disenfranchised?

    If you think we aren't a democracy you don't understand what a democracy is. Of course we're not a unitary unlimited direct democracy, but we are a democratic republic under any standard definitions of those terms.

    "Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man." - Ronald Reagan

    If you think having a small and unaccountable minority make all the decisions is wise, please read Mosiah 29 esp. v 26. Rather than having a small group of extremists make all our decisions, we should do our business by the voice of the people. Some think they can't trust the public, but trust in a "select few" will usually be misplaced.

  • BJMoose Syracuse, UT
    May 10, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    For 2bits "Name the most recent time a Republican didn't have to face a primary election (for Congress or Senate)"
    Answer: This year. None of the 4 Repub. Congressional candidates are on the June primary election ballot. All four came out of the caucuses/convention with enough delegate votes to bypass the June primary. (By the way the same is true for the Democrats.)
    I for one am glad to see the caucus only way of nominating candidates gone. Way too much nepotism. Too few controlling things for everyone else.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 10, 2014 3:51 p.m.

    As someone who was a Capitol Hill staffer on Washington for many years...also as one who has worked on major campaigns and been a delegate....I can tell you that elected officials do care about both the delegates and their constituents. They really care what they think. If they don't, they don't get elected. That's true pure and simple.

    EVERYONE has the right to attend the caucus and either run for delegate or elect a delegate that will represent his/her views. That's how a republic works--representative government. I don't really see a problem with our caucus system. It also has the advantage of vetting candidates so we likely get the best candidate as a nominee by the time they get to the general.

    The caucus system has worked well in Utah for a long time and I don't see any reason to change it.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    Re: TallGuy1970: You have unintentionally made a great case for keeping the caucus system. Many arrogant candidates (especially those with bundles of money) don’t care what their constituents think. But they DO care what the DELEGATES think, because, as you quoted, "Delegate votes can launch someone's political career or crush it."

    Well, the delegates represent the constituents, so, in a very real sense the candidates do care what the constituents think. Without the delegates, these arrogant candidates wouldn’t care what ANYBODY thinks (look at your own logic), as long as they have enough money to create enough ads to convince enough people to vote for them. But the delegates FORCE them to care and to have some sense of accountability to the people.

    Also, the delegates are not a “select few” – thousands of them are chosen across the state. You can easily run to be one yourself.

    Jewel has written a great op-ed here. Congrats.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 10, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    Mike Richards,
    Yep, a republic, that is why we have the House of Representatives, which are supposed to be close to the people. The caucus moves them further away from the people, thwarting the founders’ intent.

    I repeat.
    nope, sorry, you are incorrect.

    First, you claim I said something which I did not. Usually it's liberals who misstate their opponents. shame on you. I never said I did not get a primary vote because of the convention.

    no one gets the choice whether there is a convention or not. Does not matter whether a candidate runs unopposed – there is still a convention.

    There is no primary if there is a winner at the convention.

    Bennett did not have a primary because Lee beat him in the convention.

    Check it out, you will see that I am correct

    Partisan grumpiness? No, I just want to be able to have a say in the candidate is going to be.

    I AM upset at those who opened the primary (when it happens) to non-party members through the “compromise”. And it was NOT the CMV folks, it was Bramble who INSISTED the primary be open.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 9, 2014 6:11 p.m.

    The Real Maverick. Wrong.

    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.

    The great compromise SB 54 will likely be tossed out in court. CMV was a failure from the start.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 9, 2014 5:27 p.m.

    Of course the rambunctious pro caucus give away my vote crowd loves this system. It allows them to pack the caucuses, shout down opposition, and cripple our democracy with a few well-funded and vocal minority voices.

    What's wrong with a full on democracy? Why should some unaccountable delegate get to decide for me?

    It's so odd that those who scream so much about our constitution seem so intent to drown out the voice of the majority with this utterly pathetic caucus system.

    Under the caucus system we have lost Sen. Bennett and have gained Lee and empowered Hatch. Enough said.

  • TallGuy1970 Syracuse, UT
    May 9, 2014 3:21 p.m.

    Since the D News refused to post my first comment, I'll try again...

    Of course the person who wrote this opinion article likes the caucus system now. She's now one of the select few who actually has a voice. The problem with the caucus system is and has been that it gives more power to a select few. The author said it herself, "Candidates want to know what you think and seem to really care about your answers. And why not? Delegate votes can launch someone's political career or crush it."

    Candidates and elected officials don't listen to their constituents. They are ONLY interested in the delegates. This is especially true for incumbents looking to get re-elected. Phoning, writing to, or emailing an elected official is useless unless you are a delegate who can help them get re-elected.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 9, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    Nope, sorry, this isn't the convention's fault.

    This doesn't only happen when there is a convention... candidates run unopposed all the time (whether there's a convention or not).

    In Utah... WAY more Democrats run "unopposed" than Republicans (because Democrats have a hard time finding someone who will spend their own money and run when they know they won't win).

    Check it out... you will see that I am right.


    The Republican candidate almost always faces a Primary Campaign... for Democrats a primary challenge is rare. Jim Matheson only had primary challenger once in his whole career (because he's a Democrat).


    You claim you didn't get a primary vote because of the convention...

    Name the most recent time a Republican didn't have to face a primary election (for Congress or Senate).... Matheson has had that luxury almost every time... and I didn't hear you complaining...

    Is this partisan grumpiness... or are you upset at Democrats who run unopposed as well?


    The only time you don't get a primary challenge after convention is... if one candidate gets over 60% support.... (hint... that's rare)

    Maybe require 80%... That would be a good change.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 9, 2014 2:18 p.m.

    We live in a REPUBLIC, not a DEMOCRACY. The caucus system follows the principles of a REPUBLIC. Some of us understand the difference, but many so not. I support the caucus system.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 9, 2014 1:50 p.m.

    went to the caucus, had a blast. What fun!

    I still disagree with the process.

    Jewel is now sold because she was one of the privileged few who actually get to make the decisions.

    nope, sorry, you are incorrect. There is no primary if there is a winner at the convention. no one gets the choice whether there is a convention or not.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 9, 2014 12:29 p.m.


    Re: "I'll make my own choice, I don't need someone else doing it for me"...

    Ummmmm... you get to make your choice whether we have a convention or not. We already have a Party Primary... that's where YOU get to make your choice.

    The 2 people who got the most votes at convention will be on the ballot, but you can write in anybody you want...

    Then you get to make your own decision AGAIN in the General Election (nope... nobody makes it for you).


    So.... you get 2 votes regardless (vote #1- in the primary, and #2 general election). That doesn't change IF we have the convention. Nobody's taking your vote away from you.


    This is the faux-drama I'm talking about.... when people pretend if you have a caucus and convention you are taking their right to vote from them, or somebody is voting for them. That's just not true. You have the same number of votes with OR without the convention.


    IF the person you wanted came in #3 at convention... does he really have a great chance to win???

    If so... write him in.. and prove it!

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 9, 2014 12:03 p.m.

    I'll make my own choice, I don't need someone else doing it for me, thank you.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 9, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    I admit they aren't perfect, but doing away with them is NOT the solution... make them better.

    Either way we will have a party primary (always have, always will, it's the law)... so you don't lose anything by keeping them.

    I've never been a delegate, but I've elected people I trust to represent me at the convention, and question the candidates... and then I question the delegate (my neighbor) on a frequent ongoing basis (by email and in person) and I learn a lot (from first-person interactions, not just glossy TV/radio commercials). It works better for me than commercials...