Friday, May 24, 2013

Utah Caucus and Convention System History

When people realize this "Count My Vote initiative will give them less of a chance to participate but give media and power brokers more power, they will not sign any initiative. This is a power grab by Lobbyists, and those that want to run for office but don't believe they can win if vetted by average citizens asking one on one questions.

Perhaps you should realize that Utah was one of the early states to get rid of the Caucus System. We didn't like the results when we did and voter turnout went down. It appears we changed it to get a governor that wouldn't have won otherwise. It took less than 10 years for everyone to want the Caucus and Convention System or Mass Meetings back. 
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

Who are we going to change our system for this time? The people, or some powerful candidate?

Utah has used neighborhood caucus and convention system since statehood in 1896, as did every other state at the time.  


Herbert B Maw
Utah Governor Herbert B. Maw
At only one time in Utah’s history did the state depart for 10 years.  In 1937, a powerful State Senate President, Democrat Herbert Maw, convinced enough of his colleagues to switch to an open primary.  Some wonder if he had self-serving motives. He had had two losses, a US Senate race and also for governor, because the majority of the convention delegates disagreed with his legislative voting record. But he was well known and had money. 

Many felt like an open Primary was the ticket to the governorship, and he did win.  But the Change in the system only lasted for a decade.  After disillusionment, Utah restored the Caucus and Convention System. See the Deseret News from 1946:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=VXczAAAAIBAJ&sjid=sXwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6680%2C5376710

Today only seven states still have a caucus and convention system, but Utah is the only state that actually nominates the candidates in the convention that are placed on the ballot.  Other state conventions are endorsing conventions, but the party has little or no control over which candidate/s runs against its endorsed candidate and whether the others even represent the Party platform.

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.  

Historical research credit: Cherilyn Eagar


Is Count My Vote a Republican or Democratic Group

Interesting that a few weeks ago, the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote people were emphasising they were also run by a lot of democratic members when Jim Dabakis encouraged their members:

"Democrats, do not be manipulated into into helping the GOP insiders in their internal war. DO NOT help the initiative–DO get involved in helping Utah Democrats decide own own future by getting involved in our review of our party’s process."

The Count My Vote / Buy My Vote people fought back with this:
"The managing partner of Exoro is Maura Carabello, a well-known Democrat who helped Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat, get elected last fall.

... half of the Exoro staff are Democrats, half are Republicans.

Carabello and Webb are both on the Count My Vote steering committee, as are other well-known Utahns, including former Gov. Mike Leavitt."

Now the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote are all Republicans again? That is what they are saying now. I wonder why?
You really can't have it both ways.
When people realize this "Count My Vote initiative will give them less of a chance to participate but give media and power brokers more power, they will not sign any initiative. This is a power grab by Lobbyists, and those that want to run for office but don't believe they can win if vetted by average citizens asking one on one questions.

Perhaps you should realize that Utah was one of the early states to get rid of the Caucus System. We didn't like the results when we did and voter turnout went down. We changed it to get a governor that wouldn't have won otherwise. It took less than 10 years for everyone to want the Caucus System or Mass Meetings back. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

Who are we going to change our system for this time? The people, or some powerful candidate?
References:
http://www.fairelectionsutah.com/NewsletterLetterfromtheChairUtahDemocraticParty.pdf
http://utahpolicy.com/view/full_story/22443310/article-Bob-Bernick-s-Notebook--Dabakis--Weird-Stance-on-Nominating-Changes
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865580660/Caucus-initiative-moving-forward.html

For some counter arguments, take a look at this blog:
http://fairelectionsutah.blogspot.com/
 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The threshold is a two way sword

The threshold to avoid a primary is a two way sword. An 85/15 would make it easier for a weak challenger to get to a primary, but impossible to eliminate the incumbent without large amounts of money or fame. That was the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote request originally. Added to that the eliminating of any kind of multiple round and you could have 6 candidates in the primary, one of which would always be the incumbent.

They couldn't get 85/15, so they next tried 75/25. Almost impossible for an incumbent not to get 25% and make it to a primary. Yes, the incumbent is going to have a harder time getting 75%, but if the goal is more primaries that cost more money, it is one step closer to Buy My Vote or Buy My Ads. Add the elimination of the multiple round and you could get 3 or 4 candidates going to the primary. 70/30 allows up to 3 and again makes it harder to eliminate an incumbent.

Yes, the goal of 60/40 may have been to help the incumbents, but after Jason Chaffetz almost won in convention and Bennett and Gov. Walker lost, those that wanted to protect the incumbents realized they made a mistake with the 60/40 and many for years have wanted to switch it back. Two legislators were eliminated at convention this year. And yes, we still have some primaries, but not as many as we get with 2/3 or 70%.

In 2012 Utah, we have primaries: Hatch/Liljenquist, Dougall/Johnson, Swallow/Reyes, McCartney/Valdez, Okerlund/Painter, Vickers/Anderson, Perry/Galvez, Redd/Butterfield, Anderegg/Moore, Handy/Crowder, Macdonald/Bagley, Sagers/McCoy, Kennedy/Nitta, Muniz/Hendrickson, Stratton/Murray, Christofferson/Kane, Greene/Stevens, Layton/Daw, Nelson/Wright, Westwood/Carling, and Crockett/Winder, to name a few. Not every race had a primary nor should it. Most of those were GOP primaries.

Since 2000, 1/2 of all state wide and congressional contested GOP races  have gone to primary. 44 races, 30 were contested and 15 went to primary.

Yes a 2/3 threshold would have made a few more primaries, but the risk of an incumbent losing, or someone rich or famous losing would also go down.

Some that spoke for the 2/3 or 70% may believe what they have said, but I totally disagree and many in the SCC and also many of the delegates disagree as well. 

I have always said, The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate. 

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.  
Finely tuned balance. It won today.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why vote down the take over compromise at the convention

For a period spanning 2 years, I had the best floor attendance record for floor votes in the entire Utah legislature. I wanted to hear what Rep. King, Rep. Powell, Rep. Bird, and Rep. Noel were going to say. Even though I had read the bills in advance, discussing them could cause me to change my mind or figure out a better way, solving the concerns of many.

That is being proposed to be removed from the caucus meeting. We would be mailing in or dropping off votes, but not meeting and discussing candidates and issues. That is what is wrong with Washington DC. They don't listen to each other in a meeting. They watch from their offices. We need to change that not follow it.

I am not in favor of changing the 60% threshold  and changing to 2/3 will not get the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote people to back off, they also want:
 "AND if the caucus event is opened up so everyone can participate even if they cannot attend at a specific place at a specific time" . 
I say go watch WALL-E from Pixar again, the people on the spaceship.
 I like the idea of improving the caucus meeting so everyone that was not at the meeting can find out who represents them and who to contact. We can make the meetings so someone can come for two hours and vote.

We are talking neighborhood town halls. We aren't just meeting to elect delegates. I believe the
Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group would ruin that.
The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. Ie think that is a good thing.
 Keep Fair Elections in Utah.  
 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Keep Fair Elections in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune has published an op-ed that I wrote. You can read it at:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/56205410-82/state-caucus-system-party.html.csp



The idea is so everyone that was not at the meeting can find out who represents them and who to contact.

We are talking neighborhood town halls. They aren't just meeting to elect delegates. I believe the Count My Vote group would ruin that.

No, I didn't pick the photo that they used. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In support of Aaron Gabrielson for Utah State Republican Party Chair

The movement of the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group in many cases is to make sure the establishment has more power than grassroots. It is my opinion watching them personally this last month that Aaron Gabrielson wants to help both groups (establishment and grassroots) and James doesn't. Do we really want to hack off a very vocal part of our party? For all the move to be inclusive, the establishment wants more to participate as long as they maintain the power. This is a bad direction to go.

Four years ago, I supported Dave Hansen for state party chair and very actively helped his campaign because I believed we would have a divided state party if the other candidates won and Dave would keep the party whole. I also supported Morgan Philpot at that time because I believed he would help to make sure we didn't have a divided party. In 2010 after watching Dave attend rallies and be supportive of those in the party wanting to push back against the Federal Government, I knew I made the correct choice. I have been on different sides than Dave on other races and other causes, but Utah was better because of his service. Dave was also fair to all the US Senate candidates in 2010. I watched other states such as Nevada react poorly to 2010 and it showed in 2012.

One of the reasons I ran to be a member of the state central committee was I felt like a large percentage of the committee was trying to shift the balance of power away from the state delegates and more to the state central committee and was amazed to watch the votes of the state central committee. I attended for a year before running to be a member. I do agree there needs to be a balance of power between the delegates and the state central committee. I have voted against changes I believed shifted the power to far either way. 

I voted for Thomas Wright for State Party Chair 2 years ago, despite concerns because I felt the other choices would not help unify the party. This year I am supporting Aaron Gabrielson for similar reasons. I believe Aaron will keep the party whole and growing.

How much did Aaron raise to help fight Matheson in 2008 and 2010? How much has he raised to even run for this election. I am not worried about Aaron's ability to raise money. More importantly to me was Aaron's ability to find 80 volunteers to help him fight to get good Republican's elected when he didn't have a title and he didn't have to do anything.

I am worried about the establishment movement to crush grassroots. I believe Aaron will help unify. Remember that a large chunk of the funds Aaron raised for state raises in 2012 was to go to Rep. Kraig Powell, hardly a "TEA Party" favorite, but a good man representing his constituents and the Republican Party candidate.

For the last week or two I have been also asking myself why LaVarr Webb who leads the powerful lobbyist and insider  Exoro Group  and also the Count My Vote / Buy My My Vote group working to bypass the neighborhood election, caucus and convention system  doesn't want Aaron to win


I believe we should improve, but not gut, our neighborhood election, caucus and convention system. The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure a grass roots process can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds. 

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous. This is a good thing. 

While all 3 candidates claim they are in favor of fighting to support and keep the caucus system, I do not believe we should do this by caving into their demands . Out of the 3 candidates, the one that has the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group the most concerned is Aaron Gabrielson. He is also the one that has impressed me based on his actions and not just his words.

Aaron Gabrielson is also someone involved with social media, and didn't just sign up on Facebook this last month. He is relatively young and energetic. One of the major focus groups that the Republican Party needs to help understand the party are the young voters.  

Join me in supporting  Aaron Gabrielson for Utah State Republican Party Chair. Let's keep the party whole, add the younger voters and and let's fight to keep our neighborhood election, caucus and convention system.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

To the members of the State Central Committee

To the members of the State Central Committee, 2011-2013,

I wish to go on record that I object to the attempt by some to create an emergency or "surprise" State Central Committee meeting prior to the State Convention next week with most of the "outgoing" committee members. I would think we were more grownup that this.

Dozens of you were contacted recently by email or phone to see if you are willing to sign on to requesting a new meeting, apparently because someone didn't like the results of the votes we took in the March and April meetings. I didn't like all the results either, but that is why we vote, to see what we as a committee can agree on and what we don't. That email wasn't sent to everyone. This email is being sent to all the ones listed on the State Party website. I am sorry if it no longer applies to you or I get the email address wrong.

If this "grassroots" called State Central Committee meeting were to be held just prior to the convention, I believe it would disrupt those members that have volunteered to help candidates and the constitutional and bylaw issues being discussed. The delegates are coming as early as 7am and for the SCC members to be in a meeting after than time, that eliminates those that are helping with credentialing, booths, passing out flyers, or just meeting old friends and making new ones.

Many, but not all SCC members are state delegates and should be asking their final questions to candidates during this time period, or help their favorite candidate get elected. 

If there truly was an emergency, that would be one thing, but what would be the limit to the agenda items?
To be further discussed that day at the Convention, they have to be items that we have already voted on, or the C&B committee voted on already, and already be in the call for the convention.

I hope that this email already finds you in agreement and that this "last ditch effort" has already failed.

My likely assumption is that someone wants the SCC to change their vote on the threshold to avoid a primary. While this is a critical vote, we had it in March and again in April. We could not get 2/3 of those voting to agree on changing the 60/40 system we have now. There was no confusion on the vote.

Again, I ask that you reject this apparent "sour grapes" move. If someone is worried about the County My Vote / Buy My Vote group's threats, I say "bring it". We can kick their butt.

Fred C. Cox, Salt Lake County

PS
For my opinion on the 60% issue, see:
Disclaimer, I was originally "maybe OK" with a change in percentage until I realized 2 things:

1. Moving from 60% to 2/3 would, based on the last 12 years and the party released stat sheets, increase the number of contested in-party state wide or congressional races going to a primary up by 17%.
2. The Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group in their last letter to us threatened us to raise the threshold high enough so that later they could push to eliminate multiple round or preferential voting, (only have one vote) and have more than 2 candidates go to the primary. At least they were open and honest about their motives. I would hope we would be smart enough to see them.
3. See other reasons at the above link.

[update. At least 50 members of the committee voted to re-vote the 2/3 threshold vote and hold the special meeting apparently because they didn't like the results last time.  They are not proposing an amended proposal, it is the same one]

[update 2: The meeting was held and not only did they not get the 2/3 vote, they lost and didn't get a majority voting for this change. When it went to convention, 55% voted against this change.]