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Who Will Lead the Utah Republican Party Next? State Delegates Decide This Weekend.

Julia Ritchey / KUER
The Utah GOP is holding its first in-person convention in two years. Last year’s event was virtual due to the pandemic.

Four candidates are vying to be the Utah Republican Party's next chair. The current chair, Derek Brown, is leaving the position after his first two-year term to spend more time with his family.

Scott Miller, former Salt Lake County GOP Chair, dropped out of the race Friday. He said because there could be a lawsuit related to bullying allegations against his former communications director, he would have conflict of interest as state party chair. Miller resigned from his post as county GOP chair in March after allegations that he bullied several women involved in the party.

State delegates will decide who gets the top job during the party's convention Saturday. It’s the first in-person convention since 2019. Last year’s event was virtual due to the pandemic.

Stewart Peay

Stewart Peay is an attorney and the Utah County GOP chair. He said he’s pulled the county party out of debt, helped win back the 4th Congressional District and unified his party.

“These people on the executive committee are smart, opinionated, very successful people,” Peay said during a live streamed candidate forum. “I listened to them, I helped all of us shape the policy and today the Utah County Republican Party is running as a well oiled machine.”

As state party chair, Peay said his priorities would be defending five congressional seats in next year’s elections, keeping the party well-funded and out of debt, and bringing traditionally underrepresented demographics into the party.

Carson Jorgensen

Carson Jorgensen is a rancher in Sanpete County and ran an unsuccessful congressional primary campaign in 2020.

He said he wants to strengthen the caucus-convention system, expand virtual party participation and focus on electing quality candidates to local positions in rural areas.

“There are a lot of great people who want to get in and serve, and I think we're missing a lot of that,” Jorgensen said during a candidate forum. “We need to start giving these counties the tools that they need to get these people elected. That then puts new people into our system … and now we have added to that base of Republicans to draw from.”

Tina Cannon

Tina Cannon, a former Morgan County Councilmember and Morgan County GOP Chair, is also running under the unity banner. She said that includes a unified strategy throughout the state and a message to bring more people into the party.

“We're losing key demographics in our party,” Cannon said during a discussion with delegates. “College educated women are leaving the Republican Party, as are the youth. I happen to be the mother of three college students. … I know that generation well and I know how they communicate.”

She also said she would work on making the caucus-convention system more attractive to candidates.

Brad Baker

Brad Baker is a student at Weber State University. Baker is 22 years old and said his age would help the party attract younger voters.

“I will target young voters to try and help bring the next generation of people to the caucus and convention system,” Baker said. “I have a good idea of what young voters are looking for and what we need to do to improve the caucus and convention system.”

He also said he would focus on small donor fundraising and finding issues that the party can unify to try to fix.

Updated: April 30, 2021 at 12:37 PM MDT
This story has been updated to reflect that Scott Miller dropped out of the race Friday.
Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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