SANDY – Concerns of an overreaching government and the state’s right to self-determination were prominent themes at the 2014 Utah Republican Party Nomination Convention held Saturday.
Of the state party’s 4,000 state-level delegates, 3,795 registered at the convention, producing an attendance rate of 94.9 percent.
“The majority of our delegates are first-time delegates,” said James Evens, Utah Republican Party chair.
Congressional incumbents Rob Bishop, 1st District; Chris Stewart, 2nd District; and Jason Chaffetz, 3rd District, swept the delegate vote. The delegates also selected Mia Love as the nominee for the 4th Congressional District which is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson who is not seeking re-election.
Primaries are held if none of the candidates gain 60 percent or more of the vote.
In the race for Senate District 28, incumbent Evan Vickers and challenger Casey Anderson will face each other in a June primary, as Anderson received 59 percent of the vote. Senate District 28 covers Beaver and Iron counties, as well as the eastern half of Washington County.
More detailed election result can be found here.
Issues of federal overreach
“We believe in keeping government off your back and out of your wallet,” Gov. Gary Herbert said during the convention. “We believe in limited government.”
Utah is the brightest star on the flag, he said, because it espouses principles of hard work, the free market, and limited government interference.
Sen. Mike Lee, who was received with a chorus of cheers and thunderous applause from delegates, said: “It’s time to expect more from Congress … Don’t settle for a president that legislates with a pen and a phone – expect Congress to do its job … It’s time to expect freedom.”
“The biggest concern I have is the overreach of the central government,” Utah Senate Pres. Wayne Niederhauser said. “The states must take their rightful place and be a check against the federal government.”
One of the areas Niederhauser expressed a concern was that a large percentage of the state’s education budget came from federal funding. It isn’t the Utah Department of Education that is running the schools, he said, it’s the Federal Department of Education.
Chaffetz also said he wanted the federal government out of the classroom as well, and he denounced Common Core.
“I will continue to fight against the president and his unilateral pen,” Chaffetz said. He also said he will fight against the president’s abuse of the Antiquities Act.
Chaffetz, Lee, Stewart and others also decried the National Security Agency and its spying on American citizens.
“Washington wants to control our lands and regulate out lives,” Love said. “Washington is ruining America.”
If you are tired of federal overreach, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said, then it is time to remind the government that it is the states that created it and to make it abide by the 10th Amendment.
Concerning Amendment 3, Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, Reyes said the state should have the power to determine what marriage is defined as. “Whether or not we win in the Tenth Circuit, your AG will take this case all the way to the Supreme Count,” he said.
Reyes faced no in-party challenger and was made the party’s nominee for attorney general through acclimation.
The Utah Republican Party also passed resolutions at the convention related to the so-called Count My Vote compromise legislation, supporting a transfer of public lands, and encouraging partisan school board elections.
The state party is pursing possible action against the state government for passing the Count My Vote legislation, Evans told delegates, though he didn’t go into detail. The resolution reaffirms the party’s constitutional right of association and the freedom to choose its candidates without state interference. Opponents of County My Vote legislation accuse it of doing just that.
A resolution supporting the transfer of public lands to the western states was near-unanimously passed by the delegates. The federal government’s hold on public lands is seen by the Utah Republicans as a prime example of its overreach and mismanagement. Resolution sponsor Ken Ivory has said repeatedly that the transfer of public lands to the states is “the only solution big enough” to deal with issues related to funding public education, energy independence, and creating strong state economies.
The last resolution called for the state party to promote partisan school board elections. The purpose of this is to encourage people to learn more about candidates running for state and county-level school boards. By doing so, voters will be able to understand better who is for and against federal encroachment in public education, and used the hotly contested Common Core curriculum as an example.
The resolution passed, but only after being amendment to remove language that conflicted with the state party’s bylaws concerning not interfering with non-partisan races.
As it stands, the resolution strongly encourages legislators to consider make school board elections partisan.
- Utah GOP Convention chooses returning candidates, runoffs; STGnews photo gallery
- Stewart seeks Republican nomination, reelection; points to leadership, lands issues
- Vickers, Anderson face off again for senate District 28
- New commissioner candidates chosen, county attorney race goes to primary
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