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Rolly: In Provo's Freedom Festival, some advocates are more equal than others — just ask ousted LGBT center

Published July 6, 2017 11:03 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When America's Freedom Festival booted an LGBT resource center from its July Fourth parade in Provo, officials said the rules prevent them from including advocacy groups.

As a 501(c)(3), the expelled organization, Encircle, cannot advocate, said its executive director, Stephenie Larsen.

No matter. The nonprofit was out after being told earlier it was in.

Here's a twist: There seem to be some inconsistencies when it comes to enforcing the Freedom Festival's rules. In the past, the celebration has featured the likes of right-wing television and radio commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

Both have stirred controversy through the years with often-outlandish accusations such as "Barack Obama hates white people" and wasn't born in the United States. These guys, it seems, would fall under the advocate category.

The festival also has hosted former first lady Laura Bush, who has been an advocate for at least one prominent politician.

Home court advantage • The late Randy Horiuchi, a longtime Salt Lake County officeholder and former Utah Democratic Party boss, often mused about ways to win elections.

One of the most important campaign strategies, he would say, is participating in local parades. Candidates can wave to — and shake hands with — thousands of constituents in a joyful setting within just a couple of hours.

With that in mind, one of the three candidates on next month's Republican primary ballot in the special election to replace Jason Chaffetz in the 3rd Congressional District got to be the grand marshal of that same Freedom Festival Parade in Provo that banned the LGBT resource center.

The other two GOP hopefuls didn't get to participate at all.

That's because John Curtis, the lucky candidate who enjoyed all that exposure Tuesday just a month before the primary, is Provo's mayor. The other two — former state Rep. Chris Herrod and investment adviser Tanner Ainge — are, well, not.

So the boost given to one congressional wannabe may be justified because of his position, but it's a heck of a boost just the same.

Speaking of Herrod • He qualified for the primary by besting a number of other Republicans at a GOP convention, while the other two reached the ballot through petition signatures.

Convention delegates generally are considered more conservative and strident on certain issues than the average Republican, so a before-and-after glimpse of Herrod's campaign is amusing.

Before the convention, when only the delegates mattered, Herrod's website contained all sorts of right-wing screeds, mostly about illegal immigrants and comparing their spread to the Ebola virus.

After the GOP gathering, those comments were deleted, now that a wider audience is needed to win the primary.

But not to worry, some well-intentioned folks have revived all those Herrod posts. You can find them at ChrisHerrod.net, which features the caption: "Chris Herrod is not for Utah."

Maybe it's Russian hackers.

And speaking of Ainge • It might be a case of Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away.

Tanner Ainge, who has no political experience and has lived in Utah for just a short time, seemed to have the name Ainge as his best asset, since his father, Danny Ainge, was a basketball legend at Brigham Young University.

But Danny, general manager of the Boston Celtics, just signed NBA star Gordon Hayward away from the Utah Jazz to join the Big Green.

Smart money says the move has effectively blocked Tanner's shot at Congress.







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