Herald editorial: A divided state GOP fails to help Utahns

March 31, 2019

Despite having overwhelming majority in all level of politics in Utah, the Utah Republican Party nevertheless struggles to operate cohesively and financially.

For those that follow the party’s social media presence, March has been full of interesting (and awkward) posts and comments that resemble more of a bitterly separated couple trashing each other and airing each other’s dirty laundry for the world of social media to see.

Very professional. Very organized. Very constructive for the state of our politics.

Most of the utter dysfunction centers on the dissent of some in the party who have racked up costly court fees (they could not afford) fighting state law on how political parties nominate candidates.

At the beginning of March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Utah Republican Party’s challenge to a 2014 state law — which some thought would end the costly, divisive battle in seeking to control who runs Utah governments. Unfortunately time will tell if that’s the case, though we highly doubt it’s the last we hear about challenging Senate Bill 54.

With the constant infighting about how political candidates are nominated within the state Republican Party, the state chairman announced last week he would not run for another term. Chairman Rob Anderson doesn’t believe he can unify the party as it currently stands.

The Associated Press reported that this immediately followed action by the state central committee, which “voted to censure him for disregarding a bylaw change backed by opponents of the measure.”

In a March 18 Facebook post to the Utah Republican Party page, Anderson wrote, “Over a year ago, about the time that the 10th Circuit ruled that SB54 passed Constitutional muster, a small group within the Party’s State Central Committee (“SCC”) pushed through a bylaw they felt would set the ground work for yet another costly and divisive lawsuit over SB54. This bylaw was in direct conflict with the already declared Constitutional state law, SB54, and would have stripped the party membership of some (but not all) GOP candidates who collected signatures. The bylaw was ostensibly designed to create a new legal standoff with the hope of launching another lawsuit.”

Later in the day on March 18, words from a call for civility for the Republican State Central Committee were shared, acknowledging “We recognize the critical need to change the atmosphere and improve the civility within our committee.”

The back-and-forth drama online and playing out in our communities hardly benefits Utahns and tackles the important issues so many face, like how to best plan infrastructure for booming growth, the opioid epidemic, suicide, affordable housing and education funding.

This divisiveness within the party will likely not end until everyday Utahns and those currently elected demand the state party act more fiscally responsible, more professional, and more united in its actions to move forward no longer fixated on loses. There are a spectrum of beliefs under the Republican moniker; and yet they all remain conservative principles.

On May 4, the Utah Republican Party State Organizing Convention will take place at UVU.

Make sure the delegates that represent you attend. Make sure they are aware of your stances and what you’d like to see out of the party. Don’t know who represents you? Find out.

State delegates will vote on state party officer elections (including chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer) who will help or hinder the political progress in 2020.

Those who seek to run for these party officer positions must submit a letter of intent by Thursday.

We hope delegates from Utah County will research those seeking their vote for party leadership, that will move the party — and Utah — forward with honesty, a desire to unify and put backbiting, and power moves, in the past.