Rob Anderson told UtahPolicy.com on Wednesday afternoon he would not run for another term as chairman of the Utah Republican Party.
"It's time for me to step aside and let someone else try to seek peace in the party," said Anderson during a phone call shortly after making his decision.
Since Anderson won the chairmanship in 2017 he has been embroiled in an intra-party fight with a faction of hardliners on the state central committee who sought to keep the party's lawsuit against the Utah law which allows candidates to secure a spot on the primary ballot by gathering signatures, bypassing the traditional convention system. Earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the party's appeal in the case, ending the legal fight.
Anderson vowed to end the lawsuit when he initially won the chair position because it had basically bankrupted the party. The GOP was not paying vendors and rang up a string of debts. Anderson found multiple unpaid bills waiting for him when he took office.
"I've been attacked maliciously for the past two years for things I had not done," said Anderson, referring to the attempts from those central committee hardliners, dubbed the "Gang of 51" to either force him from office or make his job extremely difficult.
Anderson says he does not plan to stay away from the public arena, and he remains a committed proponent of the dual path nomination system.
"I firmly believe in choice for the voters and the dual path brings that choice. When you take away a path to the ballot and say you must vote for the convention candidate, that doesn't bode well for the party," he said.
Last weekend the GOP State Central Committee censured Anderson over his refusal to implement a bylaw change last year to revoke party membership for candidates who used the signature route to the ballot. According to a report first published by UtahPolicy.com, the bylaw was specifically designed to prompt another lawsuit over the dual path route, and give opponents another bite at the legal apple.
The decision to not run again set off a wave of relief said the outgoing chairman. "This will be a huge pressure off of me. I'm gonna go back to my job as a pilot and I look forward to traveling with my wife."
Anderson says he will "work tooth and nail" to retire all of the remaining party debt before a new chairman is elected at the party convention on May 4. And, he says, the task awaiting the newly elected chairman will be a herculean effort.
"Uniting the party is going to be difficult. This war is not over. I'll work hard knowing I'm not going to be re-elected. It's going to be as hard as what I've tried to do or even harder," says Anderson.