Mitt Romney, Stan Lockhart, and the "Unbinding" of the Utah Republican Power Machine

What do you do when the rules say that you have to do something, but you don't want to anymore, because the rules don't make sense? Most of us might think that we could amend the rules in case the issue arises in the future. For Stan Lockhart, Mark Shurtleff, and others, the answer is that you meet in a secret caucus and ignore them.

Utah Republican Senator Curt Bramble recently accosted a Pizza delivery girl who would not accept a personal check for the pizza she had delivered, because it was against company rules to do so.

Not a big deal? Well...what rule will the Utah Republican Power Machine think it's okay to break next time?

Why should she make a special exception? Because everyone knows Curt Bramble!! He's the Majority Leader of the Utah Senate, so why should he have to follow the rules?

Showing that the laurels it has rested on for so long have become moldy and decayed, the Utah Republican Party Power Machine flaunted its power in a similar way today, by going against the wishes of 90 percent of the Republican primary voters. The Utah Republican Party Platform is unambiguous regarding who its state delegates to the Republican National Convention must vote for as the presidential nominee:


B. Allocation and Binding of National Delegation. All National Convention delegates and alternates shall be allocated to the candidate receiving the most votes of the statewide vote in the Republican Presidential Primary. On the first ballot, the national delegation shall be bound to vote for the candidate who has received the most votes in the Republican Presidential Primary, but the delegation shall not be bound on any subsequent ballots.
The candidate who received the most votes in the Utah Primary was Mitt Romney. Romney subsequently dropped out of the race. In late February 2008, Romney sent a letter to the Utah Republican Party asking that his delegates be unbound--that they could vote on the first ballot at the national convention for the nominated candidate. According to the bylaw quoted above, that is not legal.

In an effort to correct the problem, the issue was brought up for discussion at the Utah Republican State convention earlier this year--not the fixing of the bylaw, mind you, but the breaking of the existing one. The State Delegates would hear nothing of the unbinding. Feeling beholden to the people who had actually voted for Romney, they tabled the motion to ignore the bylaw.

Recently, Stan Lockhart notified members of the State Central Committee how they needed to fix the "problem", so as to avoid embarrassment. They solved it alright.

The Utah Republican Party Central Machine voted earlier today to ignore the wishes of Utah voters and to flaunt its own bylaws, by a vote of 70-12, by unbinding the votes of 264,956 Utahns who had voted for Romney. Don Guymon, who voted in the minority on the issue, said
"The state delegates overwhelmingly wanted our Utah delegation to vote for Romney. It was pretty clear," said Don Guymon, a delegate to the national convention. "So my intent was to follow the will of Utah voters and the will of the Utah state delegates."
To many, it may seem like a small thing. To me, it isn't. As a reader named "arc" commented on a Salt Lake Tribune article when the issue first became known, and when State Party Chair Stan Lockhart determined how he was going to handle the situation:
It is real simple:

"Utah Congratulates Senator John McCain for the National party nomination for the Next President of the United States. Based on State Party Rules and according to the results of State Primary, the Delegates Of Utah support Mitt Romney for president. Gov. Mitt Romney has asked that these votes be counted toward Senator John McCain for any future voting. We agree."
It's a pretty simple solution, for sure. The bylaw clearly has a problem. But it is a bylaw. It needs to be fixed, but it's too late to fix it for this particular situation. So...we follow the rules. How tough is that. Rather than being embarrassed, the Utah Republican delegates to the National Convention would have been seen to have political integrity.

But not now. The Utah Republican Party Bosses had to make this a much more complicated situation than it should be. It's now just another indication of how powerful the Republican old-timers think they have become.

Not a big deal? Well...what rule will they think it's okay to break next time?


  1. One BIG mistake made by the SCC today was in deciding to bind the Utah delegation to the second-highest vote getter of the primary if the first-highest vote getter of the primary is not put into nomination at the national convention.

    A single-choice ballot allows a voter to express his first preference, but not his sescond and succeeding preferences. The second-place finisher is NOT necessarily the voters' second choice.

    Had IRV been employed, then we would KNOW the electorate's second choice. (IRV means Instant Runoff Voting, and allows a voter to rank his preferences.)

    But the SCC is only guessing who their second choice would have been. Basing it on the outcome of an election whose ballot allowed for only ONE choice is illogical and therefore wrong.

  2. This issue highlights the problem with Utah's lack of political parody. The Republican party here feels like they can do whatever they want because they are under no threat to lose any elections.

  3. jason,
    I think you meant "Utah's lack of political parity." We have more than enough political parody here in Utah. :)

  4. I would have loved to see Utah as the only state or one of the only states to cast votes for Romney at the Republican convention.

    This would have reinforced Romney as the Mormon candidate and would damage his viability as a future candidate. That's the main reason for doing this because McCain has more than enough delegates to secure the nomination. This is all about Romney, not McCain.

  5. Anon is spot on. The Utah GOP leaders are mostly concerned that the vote would have further damaged Romney. But that is no reason to be disingenuous about the rules.

    It would have been overall healthy for Utah Republicans to live with the consequences of their vote and their unwillingness to alter the rules. Instead, they are proving that politics in Utah are about what politics have always been about -- political expediency.

    But Jason is correct that no elected official will suffer any negative outcomes from these shenanigans.

  6. This just makes me glad that I was not among those who voted for Romney and just got my vote ignored because the rules were inconvenient.

  7. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is a corrupt public official. When he was a candidate for the Salt Lake City Commission in 1998, he was caught by police in the act of tearing down his opponent’s campaign signs.

    Link here:

    More recently, he received a $5,000 payment from, led by CEO Patrick Byrne, and thereafter defamed me on the company’s behalf:

    Link here:

    My taped conversations with Deputy Attorney General Richard Hamp and Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen confirm that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff allowed himself to be bought by to defame a critic of the company.

    Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)


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