Bob Bernick’s notebook: Are mainstream Utah Republicans returning?

Could we be seeing this spring in the Utah Republican Party, “The Return of the Mainstream?”

We can but hope so.

Next Tuesday night, March 20, are the neighborhood political party caucuses for Republicans, Democrats and other political parties.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney, along with the state and county Republican parties, are pushing for a good turnout.

For therein lies the return of sanity and fiscal responsibility for Utah’s majority party.

If mainstream, or moderate, or responsible conservatives, or whatever you want to call them, bother to show up and vote in reasonable state and county delegates, all the crazy internal fighting caused by unhappy, right-wing extremists will fall away.

Slowly, I’ll admit.

But if Romneyites – if I may call them that – have the numbers and the wherewithal, the days of the foil-hat radicals on the Republican Party’s Central Committee are numbered.

Yes, unless something really odd happens at the April 16 state GOP convention, it will be a year before a new slate of CC members will be elected – in the spring 2019 state GOP organizing convention.

But aside from finding some way to kick the crazies off the CC this April, other things can be changed – like the current bylaw that allows 48 or so Central Committee members to call a “special” CC meeting – where too few of the other (I’ll call them normal) CC members show up.

And in such “special” CC meetings, the so-called “Area 51” members have the votes, if only by a slim majority, to pass their own nutty bylaw changes – like the one last month that sent GOP lawmakers into a tizzy until party chairman Rob Anderson and GOP Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox just decided to ignore what is being called an “illegal” bylaw change.

You will never get rid of the rightwing, radical nutcakes in the Utah Republican Party.

But like a really bad family Thanksgiving dinner, you can find a way to keep the drunk cousins from showing up and ruining everything.

You don’t let them in.

In the case of the state Central Committee membership – you get a bunch of reasonable state delegates elected next week in the caucus meetings (where you will have to endure further nutty-ness by having the Keep My Voice folks reading resolutions, asking for signatures and such).

Those 4,500 state delegates – many of them Romney supporters – will go to the April 16 state nominating convention, which can take up bylaw changes.

Romney, Anderson, et al., if they will work together, can at that meeting make some bylaw changes – like the quorum number to call “special” CC meetings and such.

And then you ignore, as best you can, the wacky “Area 51” members as they huff and puff and fail to blow down the Utah Republican Party.

Oh,  the crazies at the convention will continue to yell “Mr. Chairman, point of order!” and more and more until the reasonable 4,500 new state delegates get tired of all the internal crap (with a few wondering what the heck they’ve gotten themselves into), and vote down the crazies’ ideas of kicking Anderson out of his chairmanship and such.

Too bad. So sad.

Hopefully, the “mainstream” new delegates will get a taste of the crazies’ menu and pass.

Now, religion is not supposed to play into internal GOP politics. But the reality is most of those attending Republican neighborhood caucuses are Mormons.

And the local Mormons know each other through ward congregations. And it makes sense that a trusted member of the ward, if he or she seeks a state delegate slot, will be known and trusted by their LDS neighbors.

But the local Mormon congregations also know the crazy Mormons among them – not many secrets in small town, small ward neighborhoods, after all.

Leaders of the LDS Church issued a statement the other day – saying among other things that good Mormons can belong to any political party.

But the leaders also said this: That, following state law, good candidates can take both the signature-gathering route, the convention route, as well, in the election process.

Thus, the LDS Church leaders DON’T subscribe to the CC crazies’ doctrine that SB54 is the work of the political devil.

It is a legal state law, upheld by the Utah Supreme Court and two federal court decisions.

Besides that, a new poll finds that 63 percent of Utahns support SB54 and the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition that would enshrine it by popular vote.

And 58 percent of Republicans support CMV and SB54.

So, if you are a Republican, go to your March 20 neighborhood caucus.

Vote for a reasonable state delegate who won’t support the minority Central Committee shenanigans.

Let the Utah Republican Party stop the internal cannibalism, and go about its real job: Finding good candidates, helping them win elections, and upholding Utah GOP ideals in office.