Bryan Schott’s Political BS: Utah’s Missing ‘Zazz’

With the news that Denver and Las Vegas have entered the bidding contest to host the 2016 GOP national convention, Salt Lake City is really gonna have to up its game if we have any shot of landing the event.

Why? It’s the “zazz factor.” The sizzle that’s an essential part of the steak.


Denver can boast of legalized marijuana. Las Vegas has gambling and, in some parts of Nevada, legal prostitution.

What does Salt Lake City have? Fry sauce and Ponzi schemes.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating Utah become a den of iniquity to land the convention. But, when the chips are down, we have proven we can rise to the bottom, as it were, and play dirty with the best of them. Remember the bid to win the 2002 Winter Olympics? Hookers and bribery and all sorts of naughty behavior came to the fore.

No, Utah’s Republicans don’t need to use sin to land the event. But they do need something better than ketchup mixed with mayonnaise. (Seriously, what is it with you people and condiments?)

Never fear, I have a few ideas that might help.

How about this? We build a massive floating convention venue and put the whole thing smack dab in the middle of Lake Powell. Convention-goers would be housed in a flotilla of luxury houseboats. I’m pretty sure Attorney General John Swallow have some connections to help out in that area. If not him, then Mark Shurtleff. Hosting the convention could cost upwards of $50 million. Again, Swallow and Shurtleff could put their “unique skill set” to use and head up fundraising.

Maybe we could have our own Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz emcee the affair. They could shut it down at random points throughout the festivities, blaming Obamacare. Then, Gov. Herbert could cut a deal with convention organizers to have Utah pick up the tab for re-opening the convention hall. Imagine the spectacle of Herbert having to call a special session right in the middle of the GOP convention. I’m sure Utah’s Democrats would be amused.

Speaking of Utah’s minority party, I think they would have a dickens of a time keeping Rep. Jim Matheson from entering the convention hall to vote with the state’s GOP delegation on platform proposals denouncing Obamacare to highlight his independent streak. Think of it as economic development having to hire a 24/7 security detail to keep tabs on Matheson.

Kennecott Copper’s Bingham Canyon mine could make an interesting natural outdoor amphitheater. Given the approval ratings for the national GOP, it kinda makes sense to put their quadrennial event at the bottom of a hole you can see from space.

Perhaps John Dougall’s office could offer a free performance audit for convention goers. I’m sure Salt Lake County Auditor Greg Hawkins would offer to help – any chance to flash those shiny badges his office uses.

State GOP Chair James Evans could give conventioneers short-term, high-interest loans. How else are they gonna afford the deluge of fry sauce they’ll be shoveling into their mouths?

For those attendees looking for some more risqué entertainment options, I’m sure Kevin Garn would be more than happy to give pointers on the best places to conduct naked hot-tub romps.

Guns! I almost forgot. We could give every convention-goer a free concealed carry permit. Utah’s permits are kinda like the Denny’s of the regulatory world. No matter where you are, you can probably find one.

Even our opposition groups are lame compared to Las Vegas and Denver. If you Google “Las Vegas protest” you get great stories like “More than 100 arrested at Las Vegas strip union protest.Denver saw arrests during their Guy Fawkes day demonstrations when protesters hit downtown. We’re lucky if we get 100 people maximum to show up for a protest.

Case in point – Utah’s Democrats tried to organize a counter-demonstration to a rally in support of Mike Lee. About a dozen people turned out, and none of them were Democratic Party officials. They were at a “retreat” in Summit County, rendering them too busy to show up for a protest they tried to organize. I’m pretty sure we could expect the same thing from Democrats if the Republicans decide to come to Utah in 2016.

The biggest thing Utah could offer national Republicans is unconditional love and support. We’re consistently rated one of, if not the, most Republican state in the union. The GOP would find open arms and people bending over backwards to make them feel welcome – but not in that “Las Vegas” way.

Maybe, just maybe, that might be the panacea Republicans need. After 8 years of Obama and healthcare reform and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Beehive State could be just what the doctor ordered.