Utah GOP Chair James Evans says he will run for a third term as the head of the state party.
"I want a chance to finish what we started," says Evans. "We've navigated the party through a very difficult time and have been very successful."
Evans points to the electoral successes the party has enjoyed in the 2014 and 2016 cycle. The entire Congressional delegation is united under Republican control, and his party enjoys near historic numbers in the state legislature, controlling every single seat outside of Salt Lake County.
Evans spoke to UtahPolicy in between phone calls to various officials in the Trump administration in Washington, D.C. He says he's most proud he was able to put Utah in the Trump column during the 2016 election, despite an insurgent challenge from independent candidate Evan McMullin and Trump's unpopularity among the state's Mormon population.
Evans was also picked as the 20th "Most Influential African-American Republican" by Newsmax.
Most notably during Evans' tenure, the party has filed three lawsuits against the SB54 compromise lawmakers reached in 2014 to preserve the caucus system while also allowing candidates to gather signatures to get on the ballot.
Those lawsuits have been costly financially for the party, leaving the Utah GOP $300,000 in debt. Evans acknowledges those numbers but says the situation is not as dire as you may be led to believe.
"There are two financial numbers at work here. We're $300,000 in debt because of the lawsuits, but we are running a $69,000 surplus in the account we use to fund the operation of the party," he says. "If people want to conflate those, I'll accept that. At the end of the day, we will raise the money we need to make sure we meet our financial obligations."
Current party vice-chair Phill Wright was also said to be mulling a run for the top spot, but Evans says that was before he decided to run for a third term. However, Evans says he's not sure if Wright has changed his mind about running for party chair.