Bob Bernick’s notebook: Utah’s non-boring politics

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Sometimes, when you are in the midst of some really crazy stuff, you don’t realize that you are, indeed, in the midst of some really crazy stuff.

Like the 2020 primary election season in Utah.

This is what we’ve got, so far:

A GOP candidate for governor asking independents, even Democrats, to come into the Utah Republican Party and vote for him.

This is the same candidate who used to be governor. And ran for president of the United States as a Republican not so long ago.

And his ask seems to be working — there are indications that many non-Republicans are really changing their party registration, getting GOP ballots, and voting for Jon Huntsman — who, by the way, now has the coronavirus, looks pretty sick and is quarantining at home with about half a dozen young grandchildren. Huntsman is literally holed up in a bedroom, with his meals left outside the door.

A former Utah Republican Party chairman, James Evans, is asking “all Utah minorities” to register as Republicans and vote in the June 30 closed party primary. Their voices need to be heard in an election that matters — where many offices will be decided, says Evans.

In short, a top party leader is asking what are most likely moderates and liberals to come into his party. Evans, an African-American, is not suggesting for whom they should vote for, but it’s likely many, if not most, minorities in Utah are not right-wing archconservatives — the base of the Utah GOP.

The two GOP candidates for attorney general are calling each other all kinds of names. David Leavitt says AG Sean Reyes has hung a “for sale” sign on his Capitol door through taking all kinds of campaign money that Leavitt believes is suspect.

The state Auditor John Dougall is formally investigating how the Gov. Gary Herbert/Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox administration (Cox is running for governor and endorsed by Herbert) is spending upwards of $100 million in coronavirus-fighting-funds.

Dougall is now setting up a special investigative commission to look into a weird high-tech company that is supposedly developing a social-media washing system aimed at helping fight a variety of ills, like drug overdoses, overseen by Reyes’ AG office.

The GOP-controlled Legislature and Herbert passed a broad-based tax reform law in December, then repealed it in January when facing a taxpayer uprising, and now several Republican legislators are being challenged in the primary by anti-tax reform Republicans. The incumbents could be in peril.

A GOP 1st Congressional District candidate, who is also a mayor, tried to hold a country music concert in her hometown, was opposed by the city council because of coronavirus social distancing. The concert was moved to Tooele County, where a judge forbad it.

A 4th Congressional District GOP candidate says Democrats are “socialists and Marxists,” and he won’t talk to them because they hate America. He’s ahead in the polls.

Salt Lake City had a brief riot where a police car was burned and several dozen rioters arrested. While things have calmed down, there are still nightly peaceful protests against police actions against African-Americans and other minorities.

And now we are headed into the final two weeks of a mail-in-ballot-only primary election.

Who says politics in very-Republican Utah is boring?