This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Utah County's GOP is gearing up for a confusing election cycle this year by hunkering down on purity tests to determine who gets to be a real Republican.
The county party's Executive Committee met recently and, while not taking a binding vote, agreed in principle that GOP candidates who gather enough signatures to qualify for the primary under a new Utah law still cannot be on the ballot if they don't go through the traditional caucus/convention system.
The committee also agreed that a party officer such as a legislative district chairman, a Central Committee member or a delegate is disqualified to run for a GOP post for one election cycle if that officer participates in the signature-gathering path to the ballot.
That's because, according to an explanation on the Utah County Republican Party Facebook page by Chairman Craig Frank, party officers are required to abide by GOP bylaws, which include a provision that to qualify as a Republican candidate, one must win enough convention votes to qualify.
That's fine, says Utah elections boss Mark Thomas, but the lieutenant governor controls the ballot, and he has interpreted the new law to mean that candidates gathering enough petition signatures will be on the primary ballot even if they skip the convention process.
Frank, a former state legislator, was a regular in my columns for what I would call his unusual, even comical, logic.
The Salt Lake Tribune published a story in 2009 about Frank introducing a study item for interim committee meetings to determine whether to put a special tax on caffeinated soda. The story noted it was a tongue-in-cheek response to a proposal to boost the cigarette tax. Frank noted that pop also could be harmful to one's health.
Frank posted a video response on his blog, underthedome.com, purporting to correct The Tribune story and set the record straight. Funny thing is, he merely repeated what the article said.
Another time he corrected a column I wrote about merchandise being offered for sale by the Legislature's Patrick Henry Caucus. I quoted Frank as saying the lapel pins were not being sold, per se. Instead, they would be given as a token of appreciation to those who donate to the Patrick Henry Caucus.
Again, Frank posted a clarification that merely verified what the original item said that the pins "are tokens of appreciation for individual citizens who donate to the Patrick Henry Caucus."
Now, as Utah County GOP chairman, it seems he hasn't changed much.
In explaining the Executive Committee's position on party officers signing candidate petitions, he wrote: "The answer to that question is simple ... and complex."