I voted for Mitt Romney in the Presidential Primary.
Last August, just prior to the Republican National Convention, I attended an emergency meeting of Utah’s Republican State Central Committee. As a member of that committee, I was asked to come and vote on whether or not Utah should release its national delegates from Mitt Romney and give them to “the highest vote getter who is still a candidate,” which would, of course, have been John McCain.
I know all of the logical reasons for giving the votes to McCain: Romney was no longer a candidate; Romney had asked that his delegates be transferred to McCain; it would show unity within the party; it would help Romney in future elections; it would make Utah look good for McCain.
I also know that the voters in the state of Utah voted for Romney, an overwhelming 90%, with many of those voters standing in line for hours to vote for one candidate who was certain to win, regardless. They did this on the understanding that Utah was a winner-take-all state and that the national delegates would be bound to Romney in the first round at the national convention. (Because Romney was no longer in the running, delegates would have been released to McCain after the first round.)
Earlier last summer, at the Utah State Republican Convention, after Romney had “suspended” his campaign, Republican delegates were asked to consider a motion to amend the party bylaws to say that the national delegates could be released. Although the Chair had enforced time limits on other speakers, he attempted to bend the rules for himself, so that he could better explain what he wanted to do. The delegates felt that they already knew what he wanted to do and loudly disapproved. The outcome was that a motion to table the issue indefinitely was passed by a large majority of the state delegates. Obviously, these delegates hoped that their will would prevail and that the issue would remain asleep until the next convention.
Not so fast, delegates.
It is informative to note here that, as the issue was being debated, Lowell Nelson, who was going to speak against releasing the delegates, yielded the microphone to a speaker, who said he wanted to speak in favor of releasing the delegates. Oddly, instead of speaking in favor of releasing the delegates, the speaker moved to table the motion. If he was really in favor of releasing the delegates, what would motivate him to table the motion? Is it possible that the leadership preferred to table the motion, without voting on it, so that there would be no record of an overwhelming state delegate vote against releasing the national delegates? That would certainly make things less complicated, down the road, in case the leadership wanted to ask the State Central Committee to override the will of the delegates.
Well, you guessed it, since things didn’t work out at the state convention, our State Constitution and By-laws Committee worked hard and found some “ambiguity” in the by-laws. (Never mind the fact that some of those committee members were on the committee when the “ambiguous” by-laws were written and knew full-well the intent of the authors.) Still, the ambiguity is there and Robert’s Rules apparently says that ambiguities are to be clarified by the State Central Committee. The least problematic way to approve the changes is to wait until it is too late to challenge the credentials of the national delegates and then approve a “standing rule,” rather than make a by-laws change.
So, they brought the ambiguities before the State Central Committee, spent at least an hour explaining the necessity of our approving the standing rule, jokingly telling us it was up to us to decide “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” When one committee member asked what would happen if we didn’t approve the standing rule, we were told that the chair, Mr. Lockhart, had the authority to override our decision. (It was a good thing I drove all the way up to West Jordan to give my opinion then, wasn’t it?)
Even though I understand that there were some good reasons for releasing the delegates, I did not appreciate the way the leadership oozed their way through bending the rules, against the will of the people of Utah. Because of this and because I felt it was my duty to represent the people of Utah, I was among a handful of SCC members who stood in opposition to releasing Romney’s delegates in the first round.
This is just one example of the maneuvering and power-playing that goes on within the Utah Republican party on both the county and state levels. The leadership knows the rules and uses them liberally against the delegates who are less conversant in the intricacies of the game.
We are in the process of choosing new leadership. Now is the time to stand up for honesty and transparency. Do your homework and choose wisely.
Kristen S. Chevrier
Precinct Chair HI04
State Central Committee Member