Herrod says true conservatives are being frozen out of electoral politics

Still smarting from a tough loss in the Aug. 15 GOP 3rd District primary, Chris Herrod tells UtahPolicy that it is still too early for him to think about another race in 2018.

But he still plans to vote “for the Republican” in November’s special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “I always have voted for the Republican; can’t imagine a case where I won’t.”

Herrod tells UtahPolicy that his race does highlight an ongoing “frustration” inside of Utah GOP politics, but which is also reflected nationwide. To wit:

— Candidates are running as conservatives, saying they support the Republican Party platform, but then outside of a convention process “run away” from those very principles.

In short, they are saying one thing, then campaigning in the general election on another thing and governing – if they win office – in yet another manner.

And Herrod points out another interesting factor – now that SB54 allows a candidate to bypass state or local GOP delegates and get on the Republican primary ballot via signature gathering:

— With no plurality limits in the primary, whether a conservative can win that closed GOP election really depends on how many other “conservative” candidates there are, and how the moderate, or even liberal, Republicans on the ballot shape up.

Herrod said, for lack of a better term, there could even be “plants” in the primary, a candidate(s) whose goal on the ballot is to siphon off, or split, votes one way or another – and have little or no chance of winning himself.

That is one reason it’s now hard to decide how to run for office, for not until the candidate-filing deadline will a conservative candidate really know what he or she s up against.

“Where do folks like me have to go?” asks Herrod – both in the Utah GOP and in national politics.

They are conservative Republicans – but through hypocrisy of candidates/officeholders or internal party rules or primary ballot legislation – their chances of winning are diminishing.

Because of Mike Lee’s defeat of former Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010, the establishment/more moderate win of the Utah GOP started the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition process, Herrod said. (Herrod sees UtahPolicy.com as an institutional arm of Count My Vote.)

“This is all about Mike Lee’s victory,” said Herrod, with Lee being a real conservative who has stuck with those values while in office.

“Count My Vote is at war with the delegates,” said Herrod.

And it is working, for a number of delegates told Herrod that “it is a waste of time” for them to come far away from their rural Utah homes to vote in a convention, only to see non-convention candidates (who got on the party primary via signatures) win primary elections.

On Sept. 9, the new corps of state GOP Central Committee members will meet. And one of the issues to be decided is whether to continue the party’s appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals over SB54.

The party is $300,000 in debt to attorneys who carried the cases before Utah federal court and the Utah Supreme Court, where it lost on critical issues.

CMV backers, as reported in UtahPolicy, are now going to run another citizen initiative aimed at doing away with the caucus/delegate/convention option, to be on the 2018 ballot.

CMV leaders believe they need to do that as GOP lawmakers back away from SB54 – the 2014 compromise that got CMV to drop their petition that year.

Herrod said besides the personal loss Aug. 15, he is saddened and disheartened that his defeat to Provo Mayor John Curtis is being “used to kill the caucus system; used to kill conservatism” in Utah.

In a few months, said Herrod, he will take a look at whether he will run against Curtis (the presumed winner in the special 3rd District November election) next year, or even consider a run for the U.S. Senate.