I’m a proud lifelong Republican. I'm proud of a party that fosters individual growth and responsibility. I'm proud of a party that actively seeks to limit the burden of government in the lives of its citizens. And I'm proud of a party that believes in the importance of our founding documents.
Not everyone feels that way. It's okay to have differing opinions. In fact I've long advocated that we foster those differences and encourage active dialogue between Democrats and Republicans. It's part of what makes our country great.
What I don't believe is ethical, are candidates who seek to actively exploit the process and the principles of either party for their own personal aggrandizement.
I believe it to be unscrupulous when supporters of one of Utah’s gubernatorial candidates, Jon Huntsman, actively encourage Democrats to temporarily register as Republicans to vote for him. Through these actions, this candidate for Utah’s Governor is actively telling people of both parties that principles don’t matter and that winning is the only thing that does.
It’s an outrage I would hope Democrats would share if the tables were turned. These campaign surrogates advise non-Republicans to switch parties for the minimum amount of time possible, telling people that then they can flip back after they vote to their “real” political affiliation in the general election.
This strategy was publicly launched the day after Huntsman came in sixth place at the State Republican Convention. It explicitly ignores the will of Republican voters and attempts to take over the Republican nominating process.
It’s no secret this candidate is not popular among conservative Republicans, and it’s hard to see how this action doesn’t call into question Mr. Huntsman’s commitment to the party.
Unfortunately, when I look back at the history of this candidate, I’m not surprised. This is the same person who once compared the Republican party to communist China. The same person who actively flirted with leaving the Republican Party — a party he called “obtuse.” The same person who pushed for the creation of a third party and who helped start a movement intentionally aimed at undermining the influence of Republicans across the nation.
I have a problem when a candidate who has spent the past decade trying to get rid of political labels now wants to use the Republican label when it is convenient. Mr. Huntsman has demonstrated he really doesn't like Republicans and definitely doesn't want to be called one. Maybe that’s why he didn’t hesitate to campaign for Democrats while he lived in D.C. for most of the last decade. Perhaps we’d all be happier if this particular candidate simply stopped pretending he wants the Republican label and instead re-embraced the No Labels mantra that has captivated him throughout his political career.
To avoid these kinds of electoral games, I intend to open a bill file that would require voters to maintain their party registration for at least six months after switching parties. The people who pick the Republican nominee or the Democratic nominee for the state’s top office should be people who hold the core beliefs of their party. The general election is the time and place for people to choose the best the two parties have to offer.
The good news is that we have multiple good Republican choices in this year’s Republican primary for Governor. Three of the four remaining candidates are not ashamed of the Republican label. On the Democratic side, I believe the candidate running in the race is equally passionate about his convictions and Democrats should feel confident in supporting their candidate.
Times are tough. The challenges this state is facing are real and difficult. In 2020 we don’t need a Governor of convenience, but a Governor of conviction.
The Republican label is one I’m proud of. I hope Utah’s next Governor feels the same.
Casey Snider is a lifelong member of the Republican Party, a northern Utah native, and a Member of the Utah Legislature representing House District 5.