Bruce Hough, a former radio reporter and telecommunications executive, will lead the Utah Republican Party through the 1992 elections, reorganizing a party that's just climbed out of debt and saw significant election losses a year ago.
Hough won 55 percent of the 803 delegate votes at the state Republican Organizing Convention held Saturday at Highland High School. His term runs through June 1993.Republicans are the majority party in Utah, speaker after speaker told the convention. But much work remains after several key losses in 1990, especially the upset win by Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, in the heavily Republican 3rd Congressional District.
"I hope we don't have that kind of agony in 1992," said Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. Hansen will run for some office next year, although he joked with delegates he won't tell them now what it is. He's considering running for governor, his post in the 1st Congressional District or a seat in the U.S. Senate (See accompanying story).
"We let some gimmies get away last year. I caution all (Republican) candidates to obey the golden rule: Speak no ill of fellow Republicans," Hansen said.
Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, who is definitely running for governor next year, told delegates Utah Republicans are willing to take hard stands and fight for them. "It's fitting that we took a stand against abortion. No matter who fights against us, we won't give in, won't give up and in the end we'll win. We'll fight for moderation in wilderness, even if (U.S. Rep.) Wayne Owens and other liberals try to lock and chain our lands."
Oveson then brought the delegates to their feet when he introduced Josh Peterson, the former Bingham High school student body president who, against school and Jordan School District policy, gave a prayer at his high school's graduation ceremonies several weeks ago. "We believe in the right to life and the right to access to God," Oveson said.
Outgoing GOP chairman Richard Snelgrove, praised for retiring party debt, warned delegates Republican candidates can't feast upon themselves in 1992 as some did in 1990. "We were our own worst enemy (in 1990). I hope we learned our lesson. We must close ranks (after a convention or primary nomination) and help the Republican candidate. No petty politics," Snelgrove said.
The convention's keynote speaker was native Utahn Roger Porter, assistant to President George Bush for domestic affairs. Porter said Bush has moved aggressively on domestic policies. "He believes not in more government, but more opportunities for Americans." In a rather strange twist, the GOP delegates applauded when Porter quoted Boris Yeltsin, former Communist Party member and newly elected president of the Russian Republic. In warning about big government, Yeltsin told Porter last year, "Don't finance the bureaucracy."
Hough, lauded by his nominators as a man who can deal with the media and face off against Democratic State Chairman Peter Billings Jr., says he'll start a Republican education foundation. The foundation will instruct Utahns on Republican ideals and the political process.
Hough (pronounced Huff) said he'll also start a "road show" - a group of Republican state workers who will travel Utah helping recruit and train candidates and local party leaders.
Former GOP state treasurer Michael L. Jones told delegates that the state party is in the black for the first time in years. It's not much in the black - just $392. "But it's a start," he said. At a Friday night fund-raiser, the state GOP raised $40,000. Party books show an outstanding loan at First Security Bank of $7,064 - what remains of a $10,000 loan the party took out to pay a Federal Election Commission fine imposed following an illegal party donation to the 1986 congressional campaign of Republican Tom Shimizu.
Here are the convention results (winners in bold): Chairman: Bruce R. Hough, 449 votes, 55 percent; Robert Holmes, 257, 32 percent; Mark Taylor, 97, 12 percent. Vice chairman: Arlene Ellis, 531, 66 percent; Mary A. Callaghan, 272, 33 percent. Secretary: Tom Santise, 565, 71 percent; Brian Allen, 227, 28 percent. Treasurer: Dan E. James, 289, 36 percent; Lane Ronnow, 261, 32 percent; Michael L. Jones, 246, 30 percent.