The Utah Republican Party convention held Saturday started early in the morning, with campaigns and candidates arriving before dawn and delegates shortly after. As has been happening for the 22 years I’ve been attending conventions, delegates, candidates and some campaign volunteers brought their families. Many young people were wearing candidate shirts, collecting swag and learning what it means to be politically involved.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson posted on X, formerly Twitter, and said, “The GOP convention is no longer a family friendly environment.” She told the Deseret News that her young, 10-year-old nieces were exposed to sexually explicit epithets by supporters of another candidate. “It’s embarrassing, sad and clearly no longer for kids,” she wrote.

Utah House Rep. Kera Birkeland quickly followed up with an unfortunate story of her own. Birkeland needed to be picked up at convention and dropped off at the airport. Birkeland’s daughter was headed to the gym after the airport with two of her friends and came into the Salt Palace Convention Center wearing athletic shorts and a zip-up jacket. “A woman at the help desk mocked her and shamed her and embarrassed her,” Birkeland wrote. “All three kids (age 19-20) said it was their first time at a Republican convention and it’ll be their last.”

Nathan Evershed, a Republican who ran against Sim Gill in the race for district attorney in 2018, said on X:

“A convention is supposed to encourage, inform, and persuade. Looks like it has failed on all 3. We all get it — people are frustrated about multiple issues in the country. Rightfully so. But acting like nimrods is not the solution. It’s profoundly detrimental.”

Brian Maxwell came to the convention as a volunteer with his young son, again wanting to let him get a taste of political campaigns. He also had a disturbing encounter with a supporter of another candidate. After an hour of volunteering, he let his fourth grader gather swag and talk to elected officials. “The highlight ,” he said, “was certainly the photo with Congressman Burgess Owens wherein the congressman graciously offered to let Calvin wear his Super Bowl ring. It will be a great memory for a kid who loves football.”

Unfortunately, as they were leaving the convention, a delegate beelined it to them and demanded to know what a woman was. When he said someone with two X chromosomes, she stomped off. “That was weird, huh,” he said to his son.

“And there you have what is different about many of the delegates from many rank and file Republicans,” he said. “I saw dozens of people wearing buttons for candidates I wouldn’t prefer. But it didn’t make me angry, or spark confrontation.”

Maxwell concluded his lengthy post: “The delegates gave Governor Cox just 33% of the vote. He has a nearly 70% approval rating among registered voters. It seems that what angers and frustrates delegates barely registers to rank and file Republicans, and rank and file Utahns. It’s why, as much as I used to enjoy the delegate system, the greatest advocates for the system are pushing it into irrelevancy.”