This weekend Utah Republicans will gather to elect a party chairman for the next two years. James Evans is seeking a third term to lead Republicans while Rob Anderson and Phill Wright are challenging him for the top spot. There was almost another candidate in the mix.
Former Utah State Representative Derek Brown tells UtahPolicy.com he was seriously considering a bid for the party chairmanship.
“I had several state and federal elected officials pushing me to run, hoping for some change in the state party leadership,” said Brown. “I think it was hope for some more inclusiveness in the party.”
Brown recently left a position as deputy chief of staff for Sen. Mike Lee to take a job with 1-800 Contacts. He said he was laying the groundwork for a run, but realized it wasn’t reasonable.
“The more I looked at the demands of the job and the campaign, I realized there was no way I could balance that with my new position.”
Several elected officials have told UtahPolicy.com that part of the desire for a change in leadership in the Utah GOP stems from uncertainty about the party’s finances. Nobody seems to know how much debt the state party has, but the consensus appears to be at least $400,000 and maybe more.
Brown says he was mulling running for party chair this year because the different parts of the Utah GOP haven’t been on the same page.
“There’s been a schism over the last four our five years where the delegates, party leadership, and elected officials haven’t been on the same page,” said Brown. “I don’t know if I would have had the magic ability to bring those groups together, but that’s the change some of our state and federal officeholders were hoping for. They wanted the party to hit the reset button and get over the hard feelings that have resulted from that.”
Plus, Brown says the position is a thankless one.
“No sane person does it because they want to. They only get into the mix because people who are concerned about the party ask them to.”
Brown eventually decided against a run after deciding he couldn’t give the position the effort it deserved. When he told his wife he wasn’t running, Brown says she was relieved because she felt the job would be nothing but sheer torture for two years.
“It was her birthday. She said, ‘This is the greatest present you’ve ever given me’.”