Bob Bernick’s notebook: SB54, and Utah voters, won on Tuesday

For those of us that support SB54 and the Count My Vote citizen initiative, Tuesday’s primary election results proved, once again, that GOP voters want more candidates on their primary ballots, not fewer.

Many of you know that the big two signature-gathering Republican candidates – Mitt Romney and John Curtis – destroyed their convention-only primary challengers – Mike Kennedy and Chris Herrod, respectively.

But down the ballot, in races most Utah politicos were not watching, the results were the same:

The signature-gathering candidates – or at least the more moderate, reasonable Republicans – won Tuesday.

And they won despite some really unfair, even mean-spirited, actions by their local county Republican Party bosses – who worked overtime trying to defeat THEIR OWN PARTY CANDIDATES!

The victory I like the best (and the race that I’ve written about before) is in Davis County’s state House District 19.

There, incumbent Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, a family doctor, really took it to former state GOP vice-chairman and former Davis County GOP chairman Phill Wright.

Ward, one of the compassionate conservatives in the Utah House, gathered the 1,000 signatures of registered Republicans in his district to ensure that he got on Tuesday’s closed GOP primary – just as SB54 allows.

Ward also chose to face his delegates in the Davis County Convention.

Now, under the old rules of the GOP, if a candidate gets 60 percent of the convention delegate vote, he eliminates all other candidates and is the party nominee – advancing to the November final.

But Davis County GOP bosses changed the rules a year ago. For the 2018 election, a signature-gathering candidate who also comes to the convention didn’t have to get 60 percent; he had to get 70 percent to eliminate intra-party competitors.

This is likely an illegal county party bylaw since the U.S. Constitution says all Americans must be treated equally under the law.

But Ward didn’t sue when he got 69 percent in convention to Wright’s 31 percent. Ward just went out and beat Wright’s pants off in the primary.

Early, but official, returns show that Ward got 66.53 percent of the vote to Wright’s 33.47 percent. Or Ward got twice as many rank-and-file GOP votes than did Wright.

Take that to the bank you anti-SB54 whiny little puppies.

And Dan Harrie of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that three GOP candidates in Weber County – whose Republican Party bosses are even more vindictive than Davis County GOP bosses (and that’s saying something) – advanced Tuesday, despite their party leaders trying to submarine their candidacies.

Get this, even though the county Republican delegates gave most of their votes to state House GOP candidate Steve Waldrup, county commission candidate Gage Froerer and sheriff candidate Ryan Arbon, the county bosses – despite what their OWN delegates wished – ended up formally endorsing those three men’s Republican primary opponents.

That’s because the three Weber County delegate-leading candidates had ALSO sought GOP voter signatures to get them on the primary ballots.

And the Weber County GOP bosses wanted to punish the legal signature candidates for taking that route – and supported and endorsed the convention-only candidates even though they got FEWER delegate votes than did Tuesday’s winners.

This is nuts.

There used to be strict internal GOP rules that NO party boss could endorse or publicly support one Republican candidate over another until either delegates or registered GOP voters picked the party nominee.

Now we have party bosses endorsing the convention second-place finishers over the top-delegate-vote-getter just because they took the SB54 legal route of gathering signatures.

Well, too bad, so sad.

Tuesday night Romney and Curtis destroyed their convention-only, right-wing challengers.

And Ward et al. knocked their convention-only crybaby challengers on their dirty diaper butts.

Poll after poll by UtahPolicy’s Dan Jones & Associates shows more than 60 percent of Utahns like SB54 and the signature-gathering route to party primaries.

Even most rank-and-file GOP voters like SB54.

Tuesday’s elections show – at the ballot box – that Republican primary voters like those options as well.

Don’t expect the anti-SB54/Count My Vote nutcakes in both county and state GOP leaders to give up – they’ve got a financial sugar-daddy footing their legal bills (he also gave Wright $10,000 for his failed campaign).

The sore losers can scream at the SB54 wave from the beach. But they can’t stop it.