Politics • It's off to Tampa for 74 Utahns among thousands of Republicans.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Republican National Convention convenes Monday in Tampa, Fla. but won't start until Tuesday due to the tropical storm. It runs through Thursday night, when Mitt Romney officially becomes the GOP presidential candidate. Who gets to go? Utah Republicans are sending 37 delegates and 37 alternates to the convention to make up their group that will be staying at the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore. Those delegates include elected officials like Sen. Orrin Hatch, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and other GOP bigwigs like Don Peay and John Price. Of note, Josh Romney, the son of the GOP presidential candidate, is a Utah delegate. Overall, the convention will host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. And that's in addition to about 15,000 journalists, including The Salt Lake Tribune's Thomas Burr, Robert Gehrke and Trent Nelson. Why Tampa? Although Utah made it to the short list of possible convention locales, the state lost out in the final decision, which was to host the big gathering in the battleground state of Florida. While the GOP hopes for the convention to help swing the state its way, convention-goers are likely just hoping the humidity stays below 50 percent and hurricanes and tropical storms dissipate. What should we expect? A very well-oiled and scripted political show. Political conventions haven't offered surprises since the 1970s and both parties now plan speakers, songs, videos - even the 'spontaneous' balloon drop - down to the minute. While there are rumors of Ron Paul supporters trying to protest their candidate's lack of a speaking spot, GOP organizers are ready to tamp down any outbursts. What will Utahns be doing? Beyond the obvious job of Utah delegates to cast their votes for Romney, the group has planned an excursion to the beach, a visit to the amusement park Busch Gardens, a tour of the LDS Church-owned cattle ranch in Florida and a service project in the Tampa area. The Utahns also are planning an ice cream party the night Romney accepts the GOP nomination. Who has what job at the convention? Utah's Republican National committeewoman Enid Mickelson is co-chairing the convention's Rules Committee. Ron Fox is helping to advance Newt Gingrich's visit to the convention. Utah GOP National Committeeman Bruce Hough has been named deputy chief sergeant at arms. And several people with Utah ties will be working in the convention's PR shop, including Melissa Subbotin, Jared Whitley and Aaron Walker. Where to watch? If you can't make it to Tampa, you can still get your convention fix with gavel-to-gavel coverage on C-SPAN or at c-span.org. The Utah-centric highlights Tuesday » Ann Romney speaks, roll call vote for nomination Tuesday » Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love speaks Wednesday » Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan speaks Thursday » Mitt Romney accepts the nomination