Utah Republican leaders are toying with a proposal to form a committe to interview candidates who decide to use the new signature method to get on the ballot. The idea is to make sure they agree with the Republican platform. Our "Political Insiders" and readers think the plan is one of the dumbest things they've ever heard in Utah politics.
77% of the Republicans on our panel along with 74% of Democrats and 57% of our readers say the committee is is "one of the stupidest ideas to ever come forth in Utah politics."
Additionally, 85% of the Republicans in our survey disagree with the plan to interview candidates as do 91% of Democrats and 84% of our readers.
Selected anonymous comments:
"Who are these people? When is the Real Republican establishment going to say, enough?!!! Go to your room Maybe it's time they start their own party."
"Voters should vet candidates in an election. If the GOP Special Worthiness Committee members don't come from a candidate's district, they have no business vetting them. That's not representative government."
"I've lived in nine or ten states across the United States and have never encountered elections that were conducted behind closed doors, until moving to Utah (work related). The schools I attended as a youngster taught me to believe that 'we the people' choose candidates by a process of elimination through primaries and elections."
"The Republican Party is just like a club, like it or not, they should have the right to determine who gets in based on some validation of their belief structure. If you don't like what they represent, then don't join them. It's not perfect, but who is in the best position to say who should join an organization? Those on the outside of it, or on the inside of it? We all know this is a grand ploy to control the left or right leaning of the party in Utah. It is such a game. On the one side those who want real conservative values promoted, and on the other, those who have money and want to keep the power in their hands. Unfortunately this game has high stakes."
"The party is determined to keep its tight fisted control of the state in as few hands as possible. By limiting candidates only to those who are pure and 'true conservatives' (whatever that means) there is no possibility that the impure liberals (i.e., moderates) bring the party back to center-right, pragmatic politics."
"I have already personally seen such tactics used within the GOP before, and they weren't used to truly determine if someone was a platform-based Republican (true red) vs. a RINO. They were used to try to de-legitimize candidates who didn't agree with the then leaders' policies about how to run the Party. Remember, fellow Republicans, if they can do it to someone else, they can turn around and do it to you, too. You don't want to give Party leaders that much power. Let the people decide who will best represent them!"
"Republican leadership is painting themselves into a corner and will soon find that they are there all by themselves."
"Direct primaries will dilute the voice of the Republican Party and allow candidates who are more apt to expand government get elected to office. The caucus convention system has held government close to the people and has helped create the unprecedented prosperity we have here in Utah."
"The Republican Party in Utah caters exclusively to right wing nut jobs. Moderates have been disenfranchised in recent years. This hair brained idea would drive even more common-sense folks away from the Party."
"It will be interesting to watch as the Republican leadership takes on the Republican party in a duel to the death. Democrats will still lose in most races, so where are we headed?"
"Given that SB54 allows anyone who checks a box to run as a Republican, there needs to be an additional vetting process. I don't know that this plan is the best plan, but I do know that it is better than the current application of SB54."
"Sounds like 1936 Germany to me."
"There are plenty of swing districts where the Republican candidate needs a significant number of unaffiliated voters to vote for them in order to win. James's actions are certainly not helping in this regard."
"The proponents of the purity test left out a couple of important things… hooking all interviewees up to a lie detector (after all, can we really trust what a politician says???), followed by a one-on-one closed door interview with Jack Bauer. With those finishing touches, who could possibly object?"
"If the party wants to disenfranchise any normal thinking Republican who might ever be inclined to give money to keep the party operating — they are doing a great job of ensuring that happens."
"If the plan actually comes into effect, the libertarian-leaning Republican Central Committee will absolutely drive away droves of regular people. I almost hope it happens for one cycle to ensure that the party rank and file reject the entire leadership and replace them."
"Did not Ronald Reagan preach about having a big-tent party?"
"When you start your own party you may choose to institute whatever rules to run it that you deem best. Until then, and unless you're on the URC committee, mind your business."
"For a party that goes on an on about freedom, it certainly is terrified of intellectual freedom. Second, how is an interview going to guarantee intellectual and ideological purity? If you think that three aren't candidates who wouldn't lie their teeth off to get elected, I would suggest reading a newspaper or two. This has made me so ashamed of my GOP. Now we are grasping at straws. We still can't get it through our heads that of the 102,000 registered voters who signed the petition for Count My Vote, that many (if not most) of them ARE Republican. The party is not listening. Time for Evans to go, and time to remind the Tea Party and its ilk that the adults are back in charge. I am now open to being wooed by the Democrats and their candidates after this idiocy."
"I can't think of a better way to drive moderates farther from the party. We are supposed to have government by the people, not by dictatorship.This proposal is very much against public participation and the public's best interest; it will make our low voter turnout lower. As a public relations thing it is a disaster. Are these people in control of the party that afraid of their members?Are they so unaware of the terrible noises coming out of their lips? OMG!"
"James Evans is either an absolute idiot for proposing this plan or an absolute slave to the right-wing fringe. Or both."
"As long as a consistent standard with the standard set, written, and made available before the filing period and the standard is applied to all candidates seeking to represent the Republican Party, I think this is a good way for the party to ensure that it is represented by those that adhere to the basic principles of the party."
"What did everyone think was going to happen? Did people really think everyone was just going to roll over and take it? SB54 is terrible and it is aimed at trying to take away the voice of conservatives by drowning them out with money and attack ads. NO ONE complained about the system when it produced Matheson, Bennett and Hatch every single time year after year."
"Of the people I know in party politics in this state, and I know quite a few, the comments are running about 50 to 1 that James Evans, normally a great guy, has become unraveled and needs a long vacation. Until, say, September."
"The Utah GOP used its best 'shoot then aim' strategy on this one. They have never explained exactly how the interview would figure in the nomination process. SB 54 is the law now, and it contains just a few simple steps for a candidate to follow and then the candidate must be placed on the ballot with the party name. So it is baffling just what leverage the party believes it has over any candidate who goes the signature route. Nothing the party does can stop the primary election and nomination that will occur pursuant to SB 54. If the party believes that it can identify and publicize some 'anointed' and some 'disfavored' candidates, then two things will happen: First, the party will be in flagrant violation of its historical rules and precedent that party leaders cannot take sides in a primary. Second, many of the signature candidates would heartily welcome a negative review from the party insiders, knowing that this will probably win them votes from average citizens in the GOP electorate."
"Stalin and Mao would be proud that their legacy of suppression lives in the 21st Century."
"It is obvious that the GOP does not trust the average voter–or worse, they fear them. Utah will be a better place with the dilution of the extreme choices of GOP delegates that don't link up with the average Utah Republican."
"It feels like we are living in Eastern Germany circa July 1989, right before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When people try so desperately to hang on to control, it is a sure sign that they are losing it."
"How sad that a select few feel they know what people want."
"Heil Evans! You are not faithful to THE PARTY, Comrade. You must submit to what Comrade Evans dictates, or be purged from THE PARTY. THE PARTY will COMPEL YOUR LOYALTY or you will be PURGED."
"The stupidity of this idea is beyond words."
"The Republican leadership is showing its true colors here: only the chosen few (chosen by the hard-core far-Right wing of the party) is to be allowed to participate. What a great way to drive away the moderates in their own party, plus the independents who dislike being told who they should vote for."
"Anything to keep the Libertarians in power in our GOP Legislature. Only a small handful of our GOP legislators are actually Republican."
"James Evans should resign. He says he wants to protect the Utah Republican Platform — but isn't following it himself. The platform invites all citizens of Utah to join the Republican Party to make the state better. He also is not following the rule of law, which is in the Utah GOP platform. He also ran to a federal court to overturn a state law, which violates the states rights portions of the Utah GOP platform."
"It's absolutely ridiculous. Our Party leadership is so out of touch it's embarrassing. The Utah Republican Party wants a Politburo! For the all the talk about being a freedom loving Party it is crazy that leadership wants to put candidates in a box. Heaven forbid we should let the people decide. I've never been so embarrassed as a Republican."
"I'll reiterate: one of the STUPIDEST ideas to come out of the GOP. When you hear 'Politburo,' 'Taliban,' and 'McCarthyism,' you should know you're doing it wrong."
"It is not, "one of the stupidest ideas…" It is THE 'stupidest idea.' This crap has got to end. Someone with common sense needs to take over control of the state GOP."
"James Evans has jumped in the boat full of crazies and started paddling."