Utah Democrat Walkout During Critical Race Theory Resolution Was A ‘Hollow Threat’ And A Symbolic Political Move
Utah legislators wrapped up a special and extraordinary session this week. During a vote on a resolution opposing critical race theory,17 Democratic representatives walked off the floor of the House in protest.
Democrats said they left the chamber because they were excluded from the process of drafting the resolution.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, criticized the move and said by walking out they were failing to represent their constituents.
"I just want to publicly state how disappointing it is that a party would walk off the floor and refuse to represent the constituents that elected them to be here to be their voice," Ray said.
Jeff Merchant, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, pointed to the bipartisan walk out in 2020 when senators walked off the floor before a vote on abortion.
“What it does is it highlights both the absurdity of the legislative process in this case, but it also highlights the inherent wrong of what it is that the legislature is attempting to do,” Merchant said.
Matthew Burbank, a political scientist at the University of Utah, said since Democrats are in the minority in this state, leaving before a vote is a hollow threat but it’s a symbolic political move. He said it sheds more light on their stance against an issue.
“They wanted to make a stronger statement by instead of just staying there and voting against this, they decided that what they would do is they would more dramatically walk out,” Burbank said.
He said it’s unlikely walkouts will have a bigger effect unless they’re bipartisan.
The day after, Cox said the Democratic representatives leaving was a way of making their voices heard.
“Every legislature has to make that determination for themselves,” Cox said. “Their job is to represent their constituents. And their constituents will decide whether they’re doing their job or not when they go to the polls next year.”