Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Herbert Talks Elections and Medical Marijuana

bernick mugGOP Gov. Gary Herbert says it is smart for him and other 2016 candidates to take both the signature-gathering and delegate/convention routes this election season.

For that is the only way – quoting his own Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is head of state elections – for a candidate to ensure he makes his party’s primary ballot.

Herbert spoke Thursday during his monthly KUED Channel 7 news conference with local reporters.

The governor recently signed up to gather the 28,000 signatures of registered Republicans he’ll need to make his party’s primary ballot under SB54.

He said he also plans on going before the 4,000-plus state GOP delegates in the state Republican convention later this spring.

Herbert was careful not to criticize his state GOP leaders, saying a lawsuit filed a week ago by the Utah Republican Party in federal court is probably a good way to finalize decisions on the SB54 candidate and party requirements.

Herbert’s declared GOP opponent, Jonathan Johnson, is only going before delegates.

Asked by UtahPolicy if that strategy will harm Herbert before the delegates, the governor said no – he will be working hard with the delegates themselves to win support.

There is an inherent conflict of interest in having an elected official – the lieutenant governor – handling elections.

But it’s a requirement of the Utah Constitution. And Cox sent out a detailed memo Tuesday evening saying, among other things, that his Utah Election Office will certify all candidates who get their required number of signatures to their party’s primary ballot – regardless of how delegates may vote on them in the convention.

“I want delegates and voters to attend their party caucuses,” said Herbert.

And in a way, he hopes his collection of signatures will stimulate such attendance, for petition signers will be encouraged to participate in their neighborhood caucus meetings March 22.

Because of a federal court ruling, only registered Republicans can sign a GOP candidate’s petition.

And only registered Republicans can attend and vote at the party’s March 22 meetings – where state delegates will be picked.

On another issue, Herbert said he’s interested to see if a medical marijuana bill will pass this Legislature – which starts Monday.

He has not yet taken sides on two bills introduced so far – one that provides broader use of medical marijuana another which would allow it, but in very restricted cases.

Herbert made a statement that my haunt him for some time if only is a humorous sense.

In saying he doesn’t want liberal use of medical marijuana, Herbert said: “I don’t want a doctor feel-good saying, “”¿Qué Pasa?” – here is your doobie for the day.””

Pretty hip, for a white Republican Mormon guy from Utah County.