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Utah GOP Delegates Pass Changes to Comply with Election Law

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Utah Republican delegates met on Saturday to elect new officers and hear from their elected representatives. But they also took on the difficult task of approving changes to the party constitution in order for candidates to appear on the 2016 ballot.

At issue was SB 54, the legislation passed by state lawmakers in 2014 that alters the way Utah’s caucus convention system works.  Leaders of the state Republican Party have relentlessly fought the law. They filed a lawsuit in federal court and sought an injunction to stop the law from being implemented.  Since a federal judge denied the injunction in April, party leaders have taken steps to comply with parts of the law that will allow Republicans to participate in the 2016 election cycle. Delegates voted on those changes Saturday in the form of four proposals.  The one that spurred the most debate centered on how the Utah GOP defines its membership. Delegate Don Guymon from Davis County spoke in favor of the proposal at the convention.

“This proposal right now simply would require  a candidate to be a registered Republican and also to state whether they support our party platform or not. I don’t believe those are ownerious, I believe those are consistent and commonsense proposals and I hope we vote for this, thank you,” said Guymon.

But Republican State Senator Todd Weiler said the proposal took power away from voters to decide who is a worthy Republican and who is not.

“The voters, not the party, will decide who is a Republican and that’s the way it should be. I say vote no on this. This leads to a litmus test and worthiness interviews and it’s a step down the wrong direction for our party,” said Weiler.

Delegates passed the first proposal and the remaining three, including one that classifies the Utah GOP as a qualified political party under the SB 54 law, paving the way for Republicans to be on the 2016 ballot.

Delegates also elected new officers including Phill Wright as Vice-Chair, Bryce Christensen as Secretary and Abram  Young as treasurer.  Chairman James Evans captured a second term unopposed.  Members of  the Utah congressional delegation addressed the convention and Senator Orrin Hatch was awarded the Ronald Reagan Conservative Statesman Award.

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