This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Gary Herbert's failure to lock up the Republican nomination at the state convention without having a primary may have been the result of a tag-team match in violation of GOP rules.

Herbert had three Republican rivals going into Saturday's showdown, with Jonathan Johnson seen as the only viable threat. During the convention speeches from the gubernatorial candidates, Nate Jensen took his six-minute allotment to rail against Herbert, scolding him on the Common Core, tax hikes and the Count My Vote compromise reviled by the party's hard core.

He then urged delegates to vote for the person who was closest to him on the issues and had the best chance to beat Herbert. He acknowledged he couldn't make an endorsement by name, since that is against the party's convention rules. But it was obvious he was endorsing Johnson.

The night before the convention, just before midnight, Jensen posted on his Facebook page that he was suspending his campaign and throwing his support to Johnson.

So Jensen got six minutes to slam the governor, presumably as a candidate against Herbert, when he already had dropped out of the race.

The party couldn't prevent Jensen from speaking at the convention because he had not formerly withdrawn from the race with the lieutenant governor's office, but GOP Chairman James Evans warned Jensen that he could not endorse another candidate during his speech.

So Jensen endorsed Johnson without naming Johnson — and Herbert got snookered.

Time heals wounds • The tag-teaming event against Herbert came a few hours after his campaign staffers discovered someone had put Super Glue in the lock of the trailer containing all his campaign signs, forcing them to cut the lock and delaying their ability to place the signs strategically around the convention hall.

Two staffers working together to overcome the vandalism and get the signs into the convention were foes in past gubernatorial campaigns when they accused each other of similar dirty tricks.

Longtime Republican activists Spencer Stokes and Doug Foxley, now key strategists for Herbert, were antagonists when Jon Huntsman Jr. and Nolan Karras squared off in the GOP primary for governor in 2004. Foxley was working for Huntsman, the eventual winner, and Stokes was with Karras.

A City Weekly story implied that a Karras administration would open up Utah to nuclear waste because he had ties to then-Envirocare, which operated a hazardous-waste facility in the state. Sensing Foxley was behind the story, Stokes left a message on his phone, stating that all hell would rain down on the Huntsman camp for that tactic.

Foxley turned over the message to the Huntsman campaign, which threatened to file a criminal complaint against Stokes for making threats. But that was then and this is now. The ex-enemies have made their peace and banded together — like Super Glue.

Do the right thing • The little angel on GOP boss Evans' right shoulder finally won the argument over the little devil on his left shoulder. And tough as it was, he listened to his conscience and did what he thought was the right thing.

He had to decide if a Senate District 23 delegate — who had not voted during a second tally after the first was voided — could vote late and possibly tip the balance, forcing Sen. Todd Weiler into a primary.

Weiler is not Evans' favorite Republican. The two have feuded and, reportedly, had at least one screaming match over SB54, which opened a signature-gathering path to the party's primary ballot.

At the convention, the first vote was voided because there were more ballots than delegates. After a second ballot and much scrutiny, Weiler reached the 60 percent threshold to eliminate challenger Heather Gardner by two votes.

But some delegates had left after the first vote and didn't show up for the second because they didn't know it was taking place in a different room.

Gardner filed a complaint with the party, seeking another vote — as did one delegate who had missed the second tally. But Evans, who had the power to possibly throw his antagonist Weiler into a contentious primary, ruled that the process had been followed meticulously, the votes were vetted fairly, Weiler had reached 60 percent during both votes, and the missing delegates' rights were not violated because they were told not to leave after voting the first time.

So while the devil may have been whispering, "Stick it to him," the angel's "no, no, do the right thing" carried the day.

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