On December 4, 2013 I arranged a meet and greet opportunity at the Hunter Library large meeting room in West Valley to discuss which candidates to nominate as Utah Attorney General to the Governor for the currently vacant office, prior to the Utah Republican State Central Committee (SCC) meeting and vote on December 14th. The filing deadline is December 6th at 5pm. As a member of the committee, I will be voting for 3 nominees. I also have opened an account with the Lt. Governor to run for the Utah House District 30 next year. I felt like this would be a good chance for people in the area to give me feedback.
I invited specifically, via Facebook many average voters that I knew that live in my area (approx. 350), and posted the Facebook event on my political page, and shared the event on my personal Facebook profile, where I approach 3000 friends, State Central Committee Facebook Group. At least 400 people saw the event on Facebook that was linked back to my page. The potential was for several thousand to know about the event. I sent emails to approx. 170 people in my area that had sent me emails about issues when I was in office as a member of the Utah House of Representatives during 2011 and 2012. That list includes many democratic party affiliated and unaffiliated voters. At least one or two Salt Lake Republican Party senate chairs had forwarded the email to precinct chairs. I also invited via email, Facebook and by phone any candidates for AG that have filed with the Utah State Republican Party along with several that have said they were considering running.
Two of the candidates, Michael J. Wilkins, and Scott Burns contacted me and said they had conflicts and couldn't make it. A few mentioned they had other meetings that night but would be able to drop by at sometime during the discussion and a couple said they would be there the whole time.
Bret Rawson came early and was able to talk to one member of the SCC that had a conflict and needed to leave early, but had come to see if they could still catch any of the candidates. She had to leave prior to the 7pm start time. Brent Ward was there by 7pm. Several other attendees came and after an informal chance to talk one on one we began the meeting with a prayer and pledge.
The candidates were given 5 min. to introduce themselves. Bret Rawson started followed by Brent Ward. At that point Michelle Mumford was there and also took 5 min. All 3 moved their chairs to the front of the room to field questions from those that came. After a few questions had been answered by those 3, Rep. Dan McCay arrived. While he hadn't filed yet, he had told others he was considering running and was asked to come to the front and also answer questions and introduce himself. The other candidates agreed, mentioning they would rather have him upfront, than sit in the back and take notes on them with the potential of still running. Near the end of the meeting Sean Reyes came. He was able to also help answer questions.
If I had based success of the evening on a large turnout, we had a couple of dozen come. All that came are very active in politics. We had attendees from Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties. Many were members of the SCC, along with county party chairs, region chairs, senate chairs, legislative district chairs, precinct chairs, bylaw committee members, county and state delegates. We also had some spouses of those individuals.
Also attending was Utah State Karen Mayne, who represents much of the area. As a Democratic Party member, she wouldn't be able to vote on the 14th, but could give me feedback as to who to vote for. At the end of the meeting she was given time to ask a question. She wished them all success and simply asked all of them to make sure they had enough investigators in the AG's office. As someone that had passed several business related bills in the legislature, she could see that the AG's office didn't have enough investigators to research cases to enforce some of those laws, including businesses paying people under the table to avoid immigration and workers compensation laws.
Who didn't come? The "typical" average voter, with temperatures less than 15 degrees F outside. I doubt that there was anyone there at that meeting that didn't attend their neighborhood caucus election last year. While there were several that would not be able to vote on the 14th, these were people that were or had been county or state delegates, or other officers. These are people not afraid to spend the time to personally vet candidates.
Other than answers to specific questions, I learned that each of those answering the questions would all make a fine Attorney General. If the public was worried that we would not have a good replacement, if one of these attorneys is selected, concern should be erased. While they have huge differences in background and experience, they agreed on the answers to each question, whether it was from no-knock warrants to if the new AG should file to run in 2014. They were on the same page regarding balancing enforcement and protecting the innocent, and the importance of defending the US and Utah's Constitution, including are Bill of Rights. Each would bring their own strong but different abilities to that office.
I will not be able to vote to nominate 5 or 6, only 3. I hope to be able to listen to the other candidates next week on the 11th and 13th, and look forward to their speeches on the 14th. Limiting the Governor's choice to 3 will be tough.
I believe these candidates can be AG, and should also file to run in 2014, without over politicizing the office and still being able to restore the trust needed for it to succeed. They believe if they do a good job prior to the elections, they would be elected. They said didn't have to focus all their efforts on fundraising and campaigning, especially with our current neighborhood caucus elections, convention and primary system. At least one candidate not there at the meeting has said they would only be appointed if they didn't file to run in 2014. With these fine candidates, and with our current election system, I believe that would be a mistake. We want someone to be AG that is willing to face the voters next fall.
[Note: The approx. 180 SCC members are elected by county delegates, with a few exceptions, such as party chair, elected by state delegates. There are 4,000 of the state GOP delegates, but around 10,000 GOP county delegates. These delegates are elected at Neighborhood Caucus Elections. In 2012, over 110,000 came and voted for these delegates to represent them in vetting candidates and electing party officers.]
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