State GOP officials vow that come the April 26 state Republican convention there will not be a repeat of the disastrous 2012 melee in the 2nd Congressional District candidate speeches and delegate votes.
The fix will be rather simple, says Utah GOP chairman James Evans:
-- All of the congressional district candidate speeches will take place in the main hall at the South Towne convention center.
That will allow Evans to personally be on the stage the whole time during the candidate presentations to stop any inappropriate behavior by the candidates, their supporters or delegates.
As you may recall, two years ago in the highly-contested state convention battle among 10 candidates one candidate took to the stage for his brief address and attacked by name several other candidates.
Delegates had not yet voted on the 2nd District candidates, and the attack may well have led them to change their voting preferences.
It was generally assumed that former Utah House Speaker Dave Clark would immerge from the convention with Davis County-based Chris Stewart.
But the attack came against Clark, with hints he may have been in cahoots with other GOP candidates against Stewart, who was the perceived leader.
In any case, the final round of voting came between Clark and Stewart, and Stewart 60-percented Clark and won the GOP nomination.
Since the re-drawn 2nd District is heavily Republican, Stewart coasted to victory in the final election. And it was the convention vote that basically put Stewart in office.
There was a bit of an uproar. And former Utah GOP Chair Thomas Wright, who was not in the smaller, adjourning hall for the 2nd District speeches, was asked by delegates to conduct his own internal investigation, and make a report to the GOP delegates.
You can read the Wright report here.
Wright calls the 2012 convention incident the hardest issue of his four-year chairmanship tenure.
There were rumors that some 2nd District delegates, who had already marked their ballots, but had not yet put them in the ballot boxes, asked for new ballots (and to destroy their old ballots).
It is assumed that if this happened, they were changing their votes for any of the “conspirator” candidates who opposed Stewart and voted for Stewart.
The convention flap was part of the reason a number of GOP insiders this year expected Stewart to have a formidable Republican opponent – in other words Stewart may not have fairly won the nomination, and thus the 2nd District House seat.
But that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Three fellow Republicans have filed against Stewart – Larry Meyers, Zachary Hartman, and Vaughn Hatton. But none seem to have the financial or internal GOP backing to likely unseat Stewart for the Republican Party nomination.
Evans doesn’t criticize Wright for how the 2012 state convention was organized.
There were so many candidates for the four congressional seats, said Evans, it is understandable that the 2012 convention organizers decided to “break out” the four congressional district candidate speeches and delegate votes separately so all four could be going on at the same time.
The 2012 convention lasted 10 hours as it was.
But there are not that many GOP congressional candidates this year, said Evans.
“I will be sitting right there; on the (main) stage” for all of the congressional candidate speeches and presentations, said Evans.
“I promise it will be properly handled.”
Evans wouldn’t say how he would stop any misbehaving candidate or supporter.
A tap on the shoulder?
Turn off his microphone?
A head-slap with a neon yellow Nerf foam-rubber bat?
It could end up to be a great YouTube video, in any case.