Derek Brown 01

Former State Rep. Derek Brown says he is joining the race to be the next chairman of the Utah Republican Party.

Brown tells in a statement that he plans to work to secure the future of the party.

“I am a proud, lifelong member of the Republican Party, and want to see a party that is inviting, financially strong, and united,” said Brown. first reported on Wednesday current chair Rob Anderson was not seeking another term as party chair this year. He decided to forego another race due to deep divisions within the party mostly driven by a group of hardline members of the State Central Committee who refuse to give up on an increasingly quixotic fight against Utah’s law allowing candidates to get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures, which allows them to bypass the traditional convention route if they choose. That group recently lost yet another court battle when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal of a lower court ruling that the dual-path system Utah uses is constitutional.

Brown says he hopes to put that acrimony behind him and unify the party.

“The most important role of a party is to recruit capable women and men for public office, and to support them in winning elections,” he said.

It could be argued that the infighting inside the Utah GOP cost the party several close elections in the 2018 midterms, most notably 4th District Republican Mia Love who lost her re-election bid to Democrat Ben McAdams by just 694 votes. The party was able to provide very little, if any, support for Love’s campaign because of the intransigence of State Central Committee.

Brown, who left his position in the Utah House to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff to Sen. Mike Lee, is also a professional musician who put himself through college playing piano.

Brown joins former party vice-chair Phill Wright, Cache County GOP Chair Chris Booth and Sylvia Miera-Fisk as declared candidates to replace Anderson.

The Utah GOP convention is May 4 at Utah Valley University.