Especially if they can give $100,000 to your cause, indirect as it may be.
As you may recall, state GOP chairman Thomas Wright and his staff made a special effort to increase the rank-and-file Republican turnout at the party’s March 15 neighborhood caucuses.
Originally, Wright told UtahPolicy he wanted to raise around $100,000 for the effort.
In the end, he said, the state party raised around $300,000.
And the turnout effort – combined with a multi-million-dollar delegate recruitment plan by U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and a non-coordinating attempt by leaders of the LDS Church to get all Utahns more involve in the Democratic and Republican parties’ March caucuses – worked.
While final numbers still have not been totaled, it appears both the Democratic and Republican parties doubled their caucus attendee numbers this spring.
Attendance varied, of course. But in one GOP caucus meeting in Salt Lake City UtahPolicy went to, a Republican said his precinct meeting in 2008 had four attendees. The March 15 meeting, however, had 57.
An analysis by UtahPolicy finds that Wright’s fundraising efforts were greatly helped by the Republican Governors Association, which gave $100,000 to the party on Feb. 7 of this year, and by a national group of nursing homes, which gave $75,000 to the state GOP on the same day.
The same national nursing home group, Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, gave the Utah GOP $100,000 June 6, 2011.
The nursing home care group is made up of a dozen or so national nursing home firms, including several that operate in Utah.
The RGA financially supports GOP incumbent governors seeking re-election and top Republican challengers in governor’s races.
The RGA and nursing home donations by far were the largest made to the Utah Republican Party in 2011 and 2012, party financial disclosures show.
The RGA gave Herbert no funds in 2010 -- not to his campaign account, not to his political action committee, the Friends of Gary Herbert.
Just last month, the RGA paid for a Herbert campaign public opinion poll, $23,120, conducted two weeks before Herbert eliminated all of his Republican Party challengers in the state GOP convention.
Scott Ericson, Herbert’s campaign manager this year, told UtahPolicy that Herbert had been talking to the RGA about how it could help him in 2012.
The $100,000 donation came during the 45-day 2012 general legislative session. And by law, Herbert couldn’t accept any campaign donations during the session.
In the end, says Ericson, it was the state party that actually asked for the $100,000. But it was given because of Herbert’s contacts with RGA staffers and leaders.
“Perhaps our efforts” at the April 21 convention “was helped” by the $100,000. “But that was not our initial intent,” said Ericson.
Helping turn out more Utah Republicans to the March 15 party caucuses was, and is, seen as a good thing, said Erickson. And so the $100,000 donation was solicited from the RGA by the state party as part of that effort.
No RGA money came into Herbert’s 2010 campaign in part because he didn’t ask, in part because he was a new chief executive and didn’t know the RGA bosses that well back then.
The $100,000 donation to the state party “is the first in some time” from the national Republican governor’s group, said Ericson.
Herbert has gotten to know Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the current RGA chair, and that has led to offers to help Herbert this election year.
“We believe that helping our party was important, overall,” said Ericson. “Probably that helped us as well, to get so many rank-and-file folks involved” in the GOP March 15 caucuses. “It was important to us to have a good turnout.”
It was a surprise to some that Herbert was able to avoid a primary this year by getting more than 60 percent of the 4,000 delegate votes in the convention.
He took out state Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, and former state representative/2nd Congressional District candidate Morgan Philpot, two conservative establishment candidates believed to have a chance of getting into a primary with Herbert.
While Herbert’s campaign did have an effort to turn out pro-Herbert Republicans to the March 15 party caucuses, Herbert told UtahPolicy at the state convention that he didn’t have the effort of the Hatch campaign nor the state party in general.
For the most part, the Herbert campaign piggybacked on the Hatch and state party caucus turnout out effort.
And it worked.
While Hatch wasn’t able to get 60 percent in the April 21 state convention – falling just 32 votes short of eliminating former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, R-Bountiful – Herbert did get rid of Sumsion, Philpot and several other GOP challengers.
Now Herbert must only face retired Army general Peter Cooke, the Democratic Party nominee, in the November election.
Utah has not elected a Democrat to the governorship since the late Scott M. Matheson won a second term in 1980.
So, Herbert is favored to win his own four-year term this fall. (His 2010 race was to serve out the final two years of former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s second term. Huntsman resigned his seat to become ambassador to China in the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.)
Besides a general effort to turnout grass-roots Republicans to the March 15 neighborhood caucus precinct meetings, the state GOP also reimbursed various Republican Party county organizations for the cost of holding the caucuses, paying for space rental in local schools and other public buildings and other caucus-related expenses, the party financial filings shows.
You can read the GOP reports here.