Submitted by: Deidre Henderson for St. George News | STGnews.com, writing from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Henderson is a candidate for Utah Senate District 7.
OPINION EDITORIAL – Many Utah delegates have been to national conventions before, but everyone I’ve talked to has said that this convention is different.
Utah hasn’t voted for a Democrat president since 1964. Because we’re consistently solid red, we haven’t been much of a player in Presidential politics. In fact, Utah has never had a prominent role in the process of electing a president of the United States.
For the first time, Utah was given prime seating on the convention floor and Jason Chaffetz and Mia Love – our rock and rising-star politicians – were given speaking slots.
We’ve had two Romneys, Josh and Matt, join our delegation for breakfast. Our 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games is highlighted as one of Mitt Romney’s great achievements. Because of the success he brought to our state, Mitt is, as our Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright put it, Utah’s favorite adopted son. When delegates from other states find out we’re from Utah they frequently say, “you must be so proud.”
I’ve asked a few delegates what this convention means to them and why this one is different. Here are some of their answers:
“This convention has special meaning for those of us from Utah,” former Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, David Clark, a St. George resident and three-time national delegate, said. “It’s an honor to be here at a point which I hope is a change in history.”
“This convention is much more personal to me,” Sandy resident and two-time alternate national delegate, Howard Headlee, said. “The goodness of the Romney family has had a profound impact on our family. We’ve been working for this man for many years knowing that he would be a tremendous leader for this country.”
“Utah and Mormon issues are being highlighted like never before,” Tim Bridgewater said; Bridgewater is a Provo resident and former U.S. Senate candidate and a national delegate. “My wife Laura has been interviewed three times by Headline News and CNN about what it’s like to be a Mormon mother and what they think about about this election. As a life-long Mormon and Republican, it’s inspiring to see Mitt Romney embraced because of who he is and how he has lived.”
Aside from relishing the spotlight, there is much more that Utahns can do to be influential in this Presidential race. During a special guest appearance to our Utah delegation Wednesday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie implored us to use our connections to influence people in other states. He quoted John Adams, saying, “Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.”
Christie stressed the importance of the political involvement of each one of us at this time in history:
“We don’t want John Adams to repent in heaven because we’re the first generation to fail the next one,” he said.
Utah finally has the opportunity to play a prominent role in a presidential election. Let’s not waste it.