Rob Anderson is finishing up his tenure as chairman of the Utah Republican Party.
He speaks with Managing Editor Bryan Schott about why he decided not to run for another term, his battles with members of the State Central Committee over SB54, and Mia Love's loss to Ben McAdams in the 2018 midterm elections.
Highlights from our interview with Anderson:
On why he chose not to run for another term.
In February I met with the House leadership and I sat down with them and said, ‘fellas, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done. I’m not healing the party.’ I had a conversation with the governor after the session and it was fairly clear I wasn’t his guy. That’s fine. I said I’m not going to do this because I will not do that without the support of the governor and legislature.
I felt like maybe I was the general out in the field and the commander in chief had not provided me the resources I needed. I needed money. I needed manpower and I didn’t have those going into last year’s election.
On whether the party can be “fixed” after years of dysfunction
If you listen to some of the members on the State Central Committee, they say the fight is worth the fight. Well, there shouldn’t be a fight within the party. We should come together and work hard.
On whether the Utah GOP has become complacent
I think the apathy has built over several decades. In Mia Love’s race and a lot of the local races within Salt Lake County. Apathy killed us there.
If you look at the voting numbers in Salt Lake County, 230,000 unaffiliated voters voted in 2018. We outnumber the Democrats almost 2-1 and we lost almost every race with the exception of some incumbents. The unaffiliated voters broke against us, and that’s probably the first time that’s happened. We have got to start courting the unaffiliated vote. They are the dominant party in Salt Lake County. We need to start marketing the party and recruiting those voters over to our team. We haven’t done that.
On Mia Love’s loss to Ben McAdams
The party needs to change and do things to be more effective. It’s a +13 Republican district and we lose it. We’re doing something extremely wrong. It has never been brought up or discussed (by the State Central Committee). In the August meeting before the November election, we had built walk packets to go around and knock on doors in Utah County to get out the vote. We saw the difference of 80% turnout in Salt Lake County and 69% turnout in Utah County. She could have come up with those 700 votes she needed to win the race.
I’ve told a lot of people in the party that Ben McAdams is doing what he needs to do to secure that seat because the way he’s voted and the things he’s accomplishing. His votes aren’t far left out there. He’s voting along the lines of a Republican and the only thing I think he needs to do is come over to the right party.
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