Some Republican candidates in Weber County are decrying convention rules that they say give candidates who eschewed the signature gathering route to get on the primary ballot an unfair advantage while severely punishing those who unsuccessfully tried to use the signature path.
In fact, candidates who did not try to gather signatures are given a massive advantage at Saturday's convention. Candidates who tried to gather signatures, but did not get the required number to get on the primary ballot, will be at a distinct disadvantage, needing to get more than 70% support to win the GOP nomination outright and avoid a primary.
One Weber County Republican candidate described the setup as a "North Korea style" election.
There are two contested county races where some candidates filed their intent to gather signatures but did not qualify for the primary in that manner. Now they say the rules for Saturday's delegate vote are designed to ensure that at least one convention-only candidate advances to the primary election.
In the County Commission B seat, Lori Brinkerhoff and Mark Miller tried to gather signatures to get on the ballot but did not succeed, while former State Senator Scott Jenkins decided to go the convention-only route.
Similarly, in the HD8 GOP nomination race, Steve Waldrip and Kimberly Stevens tried to gather signatures to secure a spot on the ballot, while Jason Kyle and Deone Ehlers-Rhorer are convention only candidates.
The rules for Saturday's delegate vote are decidedly tilted toward convention-only candidates.
In the HD8 race, if neither of the convention-only candidates gets at least 30% of the vote, then the non-signature candidate with the highest vote moves to the next round against the top two vote-getters. If both of the convention-only candidates get at least 30%, they move to the next round and the signature candidates are out. If only one of the convention-only candidates gets 30% in the first round, they automatically advance to the primary election.
In the County Commission contest, there's only one GOP candidate who did not attempt to gather signatures, Scott Jenkins. Jenkins only needs to get 30% of the vote in the first round to advance.
In a final round matchup between a non-signature candidate and a dual path candidate, the convention only one needs just 30% of the vote to move to the primary and 50% to win the nomination outright. The signature-candidate would need to win just over 70% of the vote to win the nomination outright.
Additionally, the County Commissioner A race has two Republicans who have already qualified for the ballot by gathering signatures: retiring Utah Rep. Gage Froerer and James Ebert. Nealy Adams and James Couts decided to take the convention only route. Adams and Couts will be afforded do-over votes in the first round against Froerer and Ebert until at least one, or both, get 30% of the vote to advance. If only one manages to advance to a second round, they will need just 30% of the delegate vote to move into a primary against Froerer and Ebert.
Candidates tell UtahPolicy.com that Party Chair Lynda Pipkin has promised a "clarification report" on the rules, but that has not yet been provided.
Pipkin did not respond to UtahPolicy.com's requests for comment on the convention rules.