Cory Leonard

Utah’s Bizarro Nominating Process

In politics on May 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Rare. Subject to manipulation. Undemocratic.  Utah has a unique (read: outdated) nominating process that relies on a small number of delegate votes. Delegates are not transparently accountable to their precinct as votes are not publicly available.

The Utah Foundation provided a helpful overview in this research report, published in November 2011:

Utah is one of only a handful of states that still uses a convention, and the only one that allows political parties to preclude a primary election for statewide or congressional offices if candidates receive a high enough proportion of delegate votes. In most of the states that also use conventions, candidates must garner a certain amount of delegate votes to proceed to the primary election. However, they can also bypass this process and gain access to the primary ballot via petition. This system makes Utah unique among states and has been controversial in recent years, especially when delegates rejected Governor Olene Walker in 2004 and then-Senator Bob Bennett in 2010.

via » Nominating Candidates: The Politics and Process of Utah’s Unique Convention and Primary System | Utah Foundation Research.

Bob Bernick, writing in explains the problem for independents (or what applies to moderate or even what used to be called “conservative” Republicans):

  • Utah is an overwhelmingly Republican state.
  • Many of the offices up for election this year hold no realistic chance that a Democrat can win. And it’s really only possible for either a GOP or Democratic candidate can win any of these offices.
  • Independent candidates routinely lose and Utah hasn’t elected a third-party candidate to the Legislature since the 1920s.

Tea Partiers have used this to their advantage, to the chagrin of former Governor Olene Walker and Senator Bob Bennett, and now Senator Orrin Hatch is facing a tough race.


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