Flagged Bill: HB 69 – Primary Election Process Amendments, Rep. Powell

Rep Kraig Powell (Republican - Heber City)
Representative Kraig Powell (Republican – Heber City)

One of the hottest debates taking place within political circles this year is the idea of dropping the caucus system in favor of direct primary voting to determine who should appear on the November ballot. Currently, only select party delegates decide between party candidates and the public only gets involved if the majority of delegates can not decide on a particular candidate.

The Count My Vote (CMV) coalition is actively working to change this by switching the process over to a direct primary system. In a direct primary system, the public decides the top candidates in each particular political party and then the winners in each party face off against each other come November. CMV contends that this process is more democratic and ensures that all people are involved in the political process. CMV and its supporters also contend that this process helps moderate candidates, as they have to appeal to a wider audience in order to appear on the deciding ballot. Opponents argue that the current system does a better job of holding candidates responsible as a small group of highly involved individuals will hold lawmakers accountable and that it is easier for candidates with little to no money to break into politics if only because they have to spend time and energy convincing a handful of people of their ability to lead.

This entire debate was started in earnest when Republican delegates swept former Utah Senator Bob Bennett out of office in favor of Mike Lee. Moderate Republicans feared a complete takeover of the party by far right Tea-Party activists and began investing heavily to change the system from the inside. This plan would ultimately fail as Republicans and Democrats voted within their respective parties to keep the system the way it is. CMV organized soon after to petition the citizens of the state to formally change the law through the ballot box.

Representative Kraig Powell (Republican – Heber City) clearly agrees with the mission of CMV with his proposed HB 69 – Primary Election Process Amendments. The bill will achieve the goals of CMV outright if it were to pass by requiring a primary election whenever two or more people are fighting within a political party to receive a nomination to appear on the November ballot.

There is a slight workaround with the bill. If political parties choose not to participate in the primary process, they could still nominate candidates through the convention system, though the candidate that is ultimately chosen would not have their party affiliation listed on the ballot. If Republicans or Democrats truly want to hold tight to the current system, they are welcome to do so, with the understanding that it can be a risky venture to omit one’s political party due to straight-ticket voting.

The ideas of CMV are very mixed among Republican lawmakers. In a bit of irony, if HB 69 were to pass, it could be due to overall support from Democrats. Yes, Democrats could be the ultimate decider in a process that started with Republican in-fighting.

To contact Representative Powell, Click Here or call 435-654-5986

Impact on Average Utahn:

High Impact   5 . 4 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   No Impact

Need for Legislation:

Necessary   5 . 4 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   Unnecessary

Lemon Score:

Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

2 Replies to “Flagged Bill: HB 69 – Primary Election Process Amendments, Rep. Powell

  1. “This entire debate was started in earnest when Republican delegates swept former Utah Senator Bob Bennett out of office in favor of Mike Lee.”

    No, they started meeting in May 2010 at the Alta Club when Sen. Bennett lost and 57% of the delegates picked Tim Bridgewater,

    Whether you like Sen. Mike Lee or not you should consider the following. The delegates almost eliminated him at convention.

    re: Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate of the two, Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round of voting by the delegates. If he had received 60% Tim Bridgewater would have been the party nominee and Mike Lee would have been eliminated.

    Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

    Sen. Mike Lee was the party nominee after the primary

    The Neighborhood Election and Convention system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

    We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, the wealthy or the famous. This is a good thing, and should be preserved.

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