If ever there was a comparison like this to be made in Utah politics, LaVarr Webb is the new Oz. He is not some disaffected party member venting on how the party is being run. Behind the curtain, he has been the chief architect, backer, and beneficiary of Count My Vote/SB54. His tireless behind-the-scenes work writing and marketing this initiative/legislation is no secret to anyone even peripherally involved in Utah politics.
Taking a look at LaVarr's open letter, here is what I see – on the one hand, UTGOP Chairman James Evans didn't just wake up one day during his term and decide to defend the Caucus/Convention system. He was actually elected by thousands of delegates, in a competitive convention environment, by a wide margin, to do exactly that. So far he has been doing a great job, given very tough circumstances, on everything the delegates asked him to do. If a UTGOP Chair election was held today, I believe he would handily win re-election.
On the other hand, businessman LaVarr Webb (UtahPolicy.com is his baby) most likely has investors with a financial interest in him doing a good job. How's that going? Well, so far LaVarr has cost a lot of people a lot of money with his Count My Vote political/business effort and the taxpayers are next in line. He has alienated pretty much every county party in the state. He has threatened the UTGOP with his influence to deny them funding on multiple occasions, likely resulting in a delay in filing the lawsuit that could now drive the suit's resolution into the 2016 elections, pushing the possible implementation of SB54 out to 2018.
Even worse, LaVarr's actions and insults to county parties statewide could motivate them to change their governing documents to eliminate their neutrality in primary elections. They could come down firmly on the side of convention-elected candidates with all their financial and volunteer resources. SB54 does not forbid this. And/or they could decide to participate more aggressively in School Board elections, being essentially shut out of partisan elections. At that point the action of a single person would have so disrupted Utah politics that parties would be overpowering non-partisan elections and fighting with their own candidates. If SB54 does become the law, albeit two years late and completely messing up the Count My Vote plan to take back Mike Lee's senate seat, LaVarr could ultimately win yet become a political pariah for all his mischief. His investors might not be very happy about that.
Both men are supposed to be doing specific things in politics and only one is doing his job well. As much as he may enjoy them, LaVarr's wag-the-dog activities appear to be adding little value to the political process. As James is doing, LaVarr should do – stick to running the news business your investors/clients expect, not making the news yourself.
Dana Dixon has been involved in volunteer organizations and grass roots politics in Utah for over 25 years. He has served on the Mount Olympus Community Council and the Mill Creek Township Planning Commission. He has held leadership positions in the Salt Lake County Republican Party and the Utah State Republican Party and has assisted county parties around the state with training events, conventions, party business, and issues with their governing documents. He has been active in issue campaigns, assisted and managed candidate campaigns, and ran as a candidate for House District 36 in 2012.
Dana has an engineering degree from Weber University, an MBA from BYU, and is a registered Parliamentarian with the National Association of Parliamentarians. He recently retired from a 35-year stint as an engineer/manager in the defense industry and is currently involved in the startup of several small businesses.
Dana and his wife Carrie have been married for 35 years. They have two children and six grandchildren.