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Top Utah Republicans Spar In Debate Over Caucus Convention System

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Two prominent Republicans squared off in a debate Thursday over whether the current system for nominating political candidates provides enough voters access to the process. 

There is disagreement among members of the Utah GOP about whether the party should hold on to the caucus convention system for advancing candidates to the ballot or if an open primary system would better serve voters. Thursday on KUER’sRadioWest, two of the state’s most recognizable Republicans spared over that question.  Kirk Jowers is a founder of the movement called Count My Vote that sought to alter the current system and move toward more primary opportunities.  He said that the compromise brokered in the legislature known as SB 54 puts more power in the hands of voters.

“Now you can have the opportunity to go through the caucus convention system with all of its virtues and some of its flaws and you can emerge as a candidate. You can also gather signatures which forces you to talk to a lot more people and at the end of the day at the primary  people will get to choose between these different candidates,” said Jowers.

But current Utah GOP Chairman James Evans wants to hold on to a system where state convention delegates largely decide who will be on the ballot.  He countered Jowers saying the compromises made in SB 54 don’t force candidates to engage more voters.

“They didn’t talk to more people they just paid companies to gather the signatures for them.  So it doesn’t end up with you talking to more people.  There were a few exceptions in smaller races where the candidates did go out door to door.  But by and large, well over ninety plus percent of the candidates just paid a firm to gather the signatures,” said Evans.

Evans and the GOP have lost several court challenges to SB 54 at both the state and federal levels. It’s unclear if they will appeal a defeat handed down to them in federal district court. Republicans will hold their closed primary on June 28.

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