When is 60 percent not really 60 percent?
When you are a GOP candidate in Davis County.
Welcome to the "new math" according to Davis County GOP bosses.
In Saturday’s county Republican convention, Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, got 66.07 percent of the delegate vote, more than enough under normal circumstances to eliminate his challenger, Phill Wright, who got only 33.91 percent.
Well, maybe not.
Last fall, UtahPolicy.com is told, county GOP bosses changed their candidate nominating rules to say that a signature-gathering candidate didn’t need the normal 60 percent to win the convention nomination and eliminate all other convention-only candidates.
No, he or she must get 70 percent – or an even greater super-majority of the county delegates.
Wright, you may know, is the informal leader of the Gang of 51 – a group of state GOP Central Committee members who are fighting against SB54 all the way, perhaps, to the U.S. Supreme Court – die-hard opponents of state GOP chairman Rob Anderson.
Ward took both the signature and convention routes this year – qualifying for the June 26 primary by gathering 1,000 signatures of registered GOP voters in his House District 19.
If Ward were only going the convention route, the 76 delegate votes he got Saturday would have been enough to eliminate Wright, a former GOP county chair who got 39 votes.
But Ward is being punished by the county GOP insiders for taking the signature route, and so instead of eliminating Wright, he must face him in the primary.
In the GOP Davis County sheriff’s race, convention-only candidate Kelly Sparks won the nomination – and bypasses the primary – by getting 61.83 percent of the vote compared to Butch Butcher, who got 38.17 percent of the votes.
There is more, UtahPolicy is told.
During the convention, as different candidates spoke, a big screen would show their name.
And if they were taking the legal SB54 signature route, there were large red letters saying they were taking that route.
If they were convention-only candidates, large blue letters said convention only.
You think county chairwoman Teena Horlacher – who ran the convention -- doesn’t like SB54 and the signature route?
There was a resolution filed that, if delegates had approved it, would have removed the county’s 13 at-large state Central Committee members – including Wright – and perhaps aided Anderson in trying to run the party with some CC cooperation.
(Anderson is also a former Davis County GOP who defeated Wright for the state chairmanship last year.)
But UtahPolicy.com is told Horlacher wouldn’t allow that resolution to be voted on, telling the convention she was tabling it because state CC members are elected for a two-year term. Thus it was against county party rules to, perhaps, cut that term in half.
So, Wright won twice on Saturday: He keeps his state Central Committee membership, and he gets into a June primary against Ward with only a third of the delegate votes.
As Mel Brooks once joked: “It’s good to be king.”
And win at the Davis County Republican Convention when two-thirds of the delegates don’t want you.
And these – the caucus/convention only crowd – advocate for a system where grassroots party members’ voices are heard.