Dave Bateman, who is funding the GOP’s legal fight against SB54, seeking to cut a deal with Count My Vote

UtahPolicy.com has learned that Dave Bateman, who is a key player in the “Keep My Voice” ballot initiative, is attempting to cut a deal with organizers of Count My Vote.

Several sources tell UtahPolicy.com that Bateman is attempting to reach CMV organizers through intermediaries to propose a deal. He’s also been floating a compromise to Count My Vote supporters who are part of the Utah GOP Central Committee.

However, a source involved with CMV says they have yet to hear from Bateman directly about any proposed deal.

Bateman initially jumped into the SB54/Count My Vote fray by agreeing to pay the outstanding legal debt for the Utah GOP’s lawsuit challenging Utah’s hybrid nomination system. He also committed to funding the party’s legal action against the dual-track system for candidates to get on the ballot going forward.

Bateman is also one of the main organizers of the “Keep My Voice” ballot initiative that seeks to completely repeal SB54, making the caucus/convention system as the only way for candidates to win a party primary.

What kind of deal is Bateman seeking?

According to a Facebook conversation shared with UtahPolicy.com, Bateman is proposing:

  • The Utah Republican Party raise the threshold for winning the nomination at the convention from 60% to 67%. 
  • Making delegate voting and attendance records available to precinct members. That means, how individual delegates vote at the convention would be publicly available to those they’re representing, which increases accountability.

In exchange, both Keep My Voice and Count My Vote will withdraw their ballot initiatives, and the legislature would repeal SB54.

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Even if he does get in touch with the Count My Vote organizers, it’s unlikely he’ll find a receptive audience. A source with Count My Vote told UtahPolicy.com that they really aren’t inclined to cut any sort of deal since they are close to getting the 113,000 signatures they need to secure a place on the ballot in November. 

Bateman’s proposal even falls short of what Count My Vote backers were proposing 6 years ago to the Utah GOP. Originally, they wanted to raise the threshold for winning the party’s nomination outright at the convention to 70%, but that was soundly rejected. That led directly to the first Count My Vote ballot initiative effort in 2014. The Legislature cut a deal with organizers that year to head off the ballot initiative, which resulted in the current dual-track structure.

It’s not surprising that Bateman is trying to cut a deal with Count My Vote. The political environment is decidedly against returning to the caucus system as the exclusive way for nominating political candidates. A UtahPolicy.com poll shows 75% of Utahns favor the current dual-track system established under SB54, while just 17% want to return to the convention-only route.

It’s unknown if Bateman has the blessing of Keep My Voice backers or the Utah GOP’s Central Committee to try and make a deal. The SCC recently passed a bylaw change they hope will give them another way to challenge SB54 in court, while House Republicans advanced a bill to repeal SB54 if Count My Vote fails to get enough signatures to get on the 2018 ballot or voters reject the proposal in November.

Dave Bateman did not respond to requests for comment for this article