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Op-ed: United Utah offers real 2-party competition

Richard Davis joins with a other citizens as they announce the formation of the United Utah Party, a new political party in Utah that will appeal to moderate Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who are dissatisfied with the current two-party system d
Richard Davis joins with a other citizens as they announce the formation of the United Utah Party, a new political party in Utah that will appeal to moderate Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who are dissatisfied with the current two-party system during a press conference at the capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Do we need another party in Utah? That is a question I have been asked by some people who have heard that a group of citizens is forming a new party. It is a valid question. Let me explain one vital reason there is such a need.

For most voters in Utah, campaigns for office are nonexistent. Outside of a few select areas of the state, there is no viable competition. The Republican incumbent wins again, unless he or she has been defeated in a primary that is closed to most voters in the state. In many cases, there is no Democrat on the ballot. This is particularly true for county offices, but often for state legislative races as well.

Even when there is a Democrat in the race, often that candidate is a “name on ballot” candidate only. He or she has done little or no campaigning and makes only a minimal effort to appeal to voters in the district. The point is not to win, or even to do well; it is only to fill a slot and prove that Democrats can field a candidate. Often the person who runs has some animus against the prevailing religious-political culture and wants to use the race as a forum to criticize publicly the views of the majority.

Republican elected officials, on the other hand, are nearly guaranteed victory. They know they will win again if they can get out of the convention. Even with SB 54, in a majority of cases the convention remains the real contest. Since the general electorate is insignificant in deciding whether a Republican incumbent wins again, not surprisingly those Republican officials care much more about what the Republican convention delegates want than they do about what 99 percent of the voters are concerned with.

My first introduction to this system occurred many years ago when a neighbor of mine decided to run for county office. He competed in the Republican convention and won over 60 percent of the vote there. He had no primary race and there was no general-election opponent. The result was that several hundred delegates determined who would be an elected county official of a county with a half-million people. That was not the representative democracy the Framers had in mind. Utah elections were a sham.

The United Utah Party changes all of that. We will compete in the general election. We will provide a real alternative to the incumbent. We will work to win over voters.

Do we need a three-party system in Utah? No, we need a two-party system. Right now, we don’t have one. In most of the state, the United Utah Party will be one of those two parties. That is the result of the vacuum created by the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to connect with Utah voters.

The United Utah Party will restore a two-party system to our state. Once again, voters will have a real option in general elections rather than an automatic rejection of one candidate (if there is even one on the ballot) and the coronation of another who believes the election was over with the convention or, on rare occasions, the primary election.

Before United Utah’s formation, voters who wanted to make a difference were forced to register as Republicans and vote in the primary of a party they weren’t comfortable with. That is not necessary any more. United Utah will compete in general elections and give all voters a chance to cast a meaningful ballot in a general election.

United Utah is the way out of our one-party system. If you are tired of one-party Republican rule but do not feel Democrats are willing to appeal to you, then here is a party that offers a real choice. For voters who actually want a voice in choosing representatives, United Utah is the answer.

Come join us at unitedutah.org. Help us restore a two-party political system to our state.

Richard Davis is chairman of the United Utah Party.