This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

In what appears to be a last-ditch attempt to intimidate Republican candidates who have accepted the legislative compromise allowing two paths to the primary ballot, GOP hopefuls are being told to sign a "keep our caucus" pledge.

Complete with pictures.

Martha Bybee, of "Keep Our Caucus," wrote in an email that the group is reaching out to potential legislators "to know how serious you are about protecting Utah's caucus system and repealing SB54."

That's the bill that created a compromise giving candidates the choice of getting their party's nomination through the traditional caucus-convention system, gathering a required number of signatures or both.

The measure fended off a petition drive that would have created a ballot initiative to eliminate the caucus-convention system in favor of direct primaries.

Bybee — whose social-media posts indicate she is a strong supporter of Jonathan Johnson, the GOP primary challenger to Gov. Gary Herbert — attached to the email a form in which the candidate vows to vote to repeal SB54 while urging the contenders to "photograph yourself signing the pledge. We will then post it on social media and you will be recognized as one who supports the voice off the people."

Sounds a little Orwellian, doesn't it?

The email points out the pledge already has been signed by Johnson, who has criticized Herbert for gathering signatures to get on the ballot as well as going through the caucus-convention process.

Here's the rub: If the Legislature attempts in 2017 to repeal SB54, the Count My Vote group that launched the petition drive is geared up for another push.

That could result in erasing the caucus-convention system altogether.

Several Republican legislators told me they plan to ignore the pledge request.

Phantom lawsuit • Remember last September, when one-time South Jordan City Council candidate Andrew Petersen sued then-City Council member Chuck Newton for defamation?

Apparently, Petersen was just kidding.

The lawsuit was filed after Newton wrote a letter to the council asserting that Petersen had attempted to bribe him through supposed campaign donations for a potential Newton mayoral run next year if Newton dropped out of the council race so Petersen could replace him on the ballot.

Petersen had been eliminated in the council contest in the primary.

Petersen denied Newton's assertions and filed a lawsuit, seeking $300,000 in damages. Newton then lost the election to Brad Marlor.

Newton was never served papers in the lawsuit and earlier this month, the case was dismissed in 3rd District Court for lack of action.

Then, this week, Petersen sent a request to Newton, asking to follow him on Twitter.

Took a wrong turn? • Moving a moon rock Friday from the Clark Planetarium to a Zions Bank vault for safe keeping during construction at the planetarium was a top-security operation.

Armed guards accompanied the rare stone, on permanent loan from NASA to the planetarium. It was wrapped in a cloth and locked in a protective case while being driven a few blocks to the downtown bank.

The rock was accompanied by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and County Councilman Richard Snelgrove, who carefully watched over the precious gem harvested from the moon decades ago.

Alas, they got lost.

As the police car carrying the moon rock and the two county officials pulled up to the bank, there was no one there to greet them for the festivities.

Was it a setup? Were there moon-rock hijackers lurking behind the walls, ready to pounce?

No. They went to the wrong bank.

The one that was prepared to take the rock and had readied a crowd for the hoopla surrounding the event was Zions' main branch on South Temple. The police car carrying the rock, guarded by McAdams and Snelgrove, went to the branch at 100 South and Main.

When they realized their mistake, the police escort drove the extra block to the right place before an all-points bulletin went out to arrest the officials for taking off with the moon rock.

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