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.
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
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?
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!
"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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Either change or keep submitting to mob rule by extremists.
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!
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
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.