Much has been said recently by members of the Utah Legislature, political consultants, media commentators and others regarding discussions the Utah Republican Party is having as it works to remain relevant in a post-Count My Vote/Senate Bill 54 world.
There is a simple solution: The leadership of the Republican Party only needs follow Judge David Nuffer’s April 10 bench ruling to reassert itself and protect its brand from outlier candidates who choose to circumvent the decades-long vetting processes established by the Utah Republican Party. This option can also assure the general voters that a majority of Utah Republicans support the eventual nominee, which would mitigate plurality assured in a direct primary mandated by CMV/SB54 rules.
In his bench ruling on April 10, Judge David Nuffer stated:
“Issues about the possibility that party nominee may not necessarily be a party member or committed to the party platform are easily resolvable by the party membership requirements. The State has nothing to say about who's the member of a party, at least under this statute, except to say it's determined in accordance with party rules. The Lopez Torres case also weighs in on this.”
A much more elegant definition of membership that would protect the party brand could be: A party affiliate is defined as any Utah resident who is 18 years old and checks a box on a Utah Voter Registration form identifying party affiliation as the Utah Republican Party. Affiliates can participate in party caucuses, and vote in Republican primary elections.
Candidate membership could simply be defined as candidates for any elected position in the party or public office as: Any candidates who have chosen to follow the vetting processes and rules outlined exclusively in the Constitution and bylaws of the Utah Republican Party. Candidates for public office or party positions who choose other methods would be party affiliates not eligible for candidate membership.
No "Star Chamber" interviews, no fees and no purity tests; just simply follow the rules established by the Utah Republican Party to represent the party to the general public on a general election ballot. Candidates who choose not to follow the decades-long vetting processes of the Utah Republican Party will not qualify as candidate members representing the Utah Republican Party; they will still be party affiliates.
This debate seems to be evolving into who should determine the rules by which politicians are nominated by their party. Should it be the politicians making the rules or should the political party they represent make the rules to nominate the politicians?
Any affiliated or unaffiliated candidates who gather signatures have always been able to appear on the general election ballot in Utah as unaffiliated candidates. Such signature gathering candidates still can with this membership definition.
Mr. Layne Beck is a former member of the Cache County Council. He is a 35-year member of the Utah Republican Party. He is a professional insurance agent by profession.