OPINION EDITORIAL – The Republican party used to be known for conservative principles, free enterprise capitalism, gun rights, the constitution, limited government and for… well, a Republican form of government.
Many people who are still with the party and those who have left to become independents, are frustrated because the party no longer stands for those doctrines any more. Oh sure, every candidate still says they do, and with a little kickback they can get an endorsement from a third party, confirming their “achievements” (ex. Orrin Hatch endorsed by the NRA), but their actions are screaming obscenely the opposite.
Yesterday (April 21, 2012) the Utah state delegates gathered at the state convention in Sandy were able to witness the dark side of the Utah GOP. Some may say this is politics as usual, but it may be the root of the erosion of trust in politicians, ethics in general and possibly even the American way of life.
Well into the day, the second congressional district met in a separate room from the other districts to hear from the candidates since they had 11 applying for the job of U.S. congressman/congresswoman. Each had 6 minutes to sell the delegates on their worthiness by discussing their accomplishments in either business, or government or both. Some seemed to speak with passionate conviction while others seemed to use memorized platitudes, though with great volume trying not to be outdone.
One by one they pressed the limit of 6 minute clock, and then …. candidate number 11, Milt Hanks. Milt too shared his conviction in conservative principles and his principled ancestry, including Ephraim K. Hanks and Abraham Lincoln, through his mother Nancy Hanks. He said he had spent less than any other candidate (his hadn’t reached $1,700 in expenses) and he thought the other candidates’ expensive booths proved they weren’t fiscally responsible enough to represent Utah in Washington D.C. Then he dropped a bombshell. He revealed he was approached by other candidates in this same race who were teaming up to take on Chris Stewart, and he named names. Of the four names, two prominent semi-career politicians were pegged, David Clark and Cherilyn Eager. According to Milt, they, with others, had made a pact (some people in Utah would call it a combination, made in secret), that if one of them were neck to neck with the popular author, Chris Stewart, the rest would drop out of the race and support the strongest among themselves to defeat him. I’m sure they were miffed, but probably quickly dismissed Milt’s words as just a wasted attempt to gain foothold, that is until the results were called about thirty or so minutes later. Nine of the eleven candidates had qualified to a second round of voting and, perhaps the biggest surprise, Hanks had reached 3rd place. This created a mud storm and when the nine were able to get back up for another two minutes, they started slinging it.
Bob Fuehr and Jason Buck were the first and were both pretty mild. They equally seemed to regurgitate versions of what they could remember of Milt’s speech earlier, since they saw his fruits. Cherilyn was the leader of a drama which quickly ensued as she began speaking and then stopped. One Mississippi, two Mississippi …..It seemed like emotions were about to explode from within her, but was it going to be tears or a rekindling of passion for her love of country, the state of Utah and the Republican party, etc. None of the above. Ten Mississippi, then … bitter timidity and shock of defeat was quietly expressed. Her allotted time was up as she seemed to recover a little confidence and explain how an injustice had just taken place, but the body of delegates were determined her time she was done.
Chris Stewart stood and said nothing in his past would show anything that would disqualify him from this office and he didn’t wake up earlier that morning guessing the details of the events that had recently taken place.
Chuck Williams stood and didn’t waste any time in calling Chris Stewart a liar. His mic was abruptly cut and portions of the audience yelled, “let him speak”. There were whisperings of confusion in the entire room. Much of it was because three-fourths of the delegates were oblivious to what occurred in room 500 and even many of those who listened to the 11 pitches were still puzzled to what had just actually happened. After about a minute and a half, Chuck’s mic was turned back on and he finished his speech.
Jeramey McElhaney, another candidate, stood and seemed to be just as surprised as the delegates and made another attempt to get enough votes for the win, or at least the next round, if it came to that.
It was then David Clark’s turn, but he didn’t arrive on stage alone. He was joined with Cherilyn Eager, Chuck Williams and a couple of the other candidates who were not only now wearing David Clark pins, but some had donned them when they spoke earlier in the same round. It appears several of the candidates had suddenly circled their political wagons around Clark, who received the 2nd largest number of 2nd congressional district delegate votes to defeat the guy who had taken first place, Chris Stewart.
Milt’s time was up to finish the second round of speeches. He simply said that what he had revealed in the first round, just took place. To observers, it wasn’t apparent the four other candidates understood the irony of their actions. Did they really have a plan? If they didn’t, did Hanks provide them a real reason to join forces? And, what do they have against Chris Stewart?
Discussions, hushed or entirely audible, were taking place, especially on the north side of the hall where the second district was seated. People were reporting from the Clark and Eager camps that Milt had taken away votes from them in the first round and they were denying any collusion. In case you missed the show of arrogance in the last line, let me emphasize. Clark and Eagar’s campaigns both allegedly felt wronged by Hank’s campaign because he took away “their” votes. They seemed to believe they deserved the votes, but why? Because of their previous dedicated service? Or maybe it was because of their loyalty to Grand Old Party of Utah. Perhaps it was because they had set their hearts upon spending the rest of their working days as politicians. Regardless, things weren’t going as each of them had planned.
The Republican party of yesteryear was against entitlements, but now it seems, that like most everything else among politicians, there’s a different set of rules for them than for those they’re supposed to be serving.
Stewart stood alone with his wife with an occasional visit from a concerned delegate throughout the speeches.
A second vote followed the round of speeches and then it was down to two. Chris Stewart was still in the lead and David Clark was trailing, but not by far.
Most of the state delegates had arrived before 8:00 that morning and it was about 7:30 in the evening before the third round of voting, and sitting for that many hours was starting to wear on their patience as some had a long drive home ahead of them (more sitting).
The slightly thinned crowd did come to a hush as the results of the third round were announced and then came a sudden burst of cheering, clapping, whistling and even the victorious blow of an air horn as Chris Stewart was named the nominee. Stewart had taken the lead once again, but this time with enough votes to avoid having to run in the Republican primary against Clark.
To the gratitude of the delegates, the convention adjourned almost succinctly after a little business and Carl Wimmer’s endorsement of Mia Love as the Republican nominee of the 4th congressional district.
Whether or not the delegates witnessed an example of instant Karma and a story of a victor, triumphing over sinister hatched plans are yet to be seen, if any malintent by a few of the candidates is uncovered in an informal investigation by the Utah GOP, and if Stewart goes on to win the general election and serves the people of Utah with integrity and honor.
Submitted by: Ernie Fowlke