Two pieces of legislation from Senator Scott Jenkins (Republican – Plain City) that are designed to counteract the Count My Vote compromise from last year were passed out of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee with favorable recommendations Friday. The lone Democrat on the committee, Senator Luz Escamilla (Salt Lake City), cast a dissenting vote against both measures.
SJR 2 – Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Rights of Political Parties sets forth a proposal to amend the Utah Constitution to prohibit the infringement of the right of a political party to establish a process of selecting their candidates. If approved, voters in 2016 will get to weigh in on the measure.
James Evans, Chair of the Utah Republican Party, believes SJR 2 will hopefully settle the caucus/convention vs. direct primary debate once and for all. “The reason that I like this particular resolution is because it will be at the decision of the people to actually finally weigh in, as opposed to political debates at the legislature,” Evans told the committee.
SB 43 – Changes to Election Laws, which was substituted, would require registered political parties to select their candidates via the caucus-co venting system, rather than a direct primary. The bill would delay the implementation of last year’s SB 54 – Elections Amendments until January 2017.
According to Evans, the Utah GOP needs to make over two dozen changes to their governing documents in order to be in compliance with SB 54. He says that there isn’t enough time to get everything ready by the deadline of September 30, 2015, as there is only one more convention between now and then. “The effect of SB 54 is, essentially, to prepare for the 2016 election cycle. It is almost unsustainable. We are doing everything we can to prepare.”
Weber County Republican Party Vice Chair Lynda Pipkin is not happy with the possible delay of SB 54. “I’m disappointed that you’re going to postpone this until 2017. The target is the 2016 election and everybody knows that. We don’t need to pretend.”
“If I’m going to go vote on a Republican ticket, say I’m unaffiliated last year and I went and voted. I could vote. I’d just have to check a little box that says I afilliate Republican and I could vote in the Republican primary. The next day, I could go down to my county clerk’s office and I could unaffiliate. If people hate the Republican Party so much that they are not willing to check a little box for one day, then they probably shouldn’t be picking the nominee,” said Pipkin.