This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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

It can be really difficult to run for office when you don't know exactly which powerful constituency you should be toadying up to. That's the confusing situation that many current and would-be elected officials who consider themselves Utah Republicans find themselves in today.

It's not because of anything the candidates have done wrong. It's because the people who technically hold the keys to the party apparatus are fighting to keep the nominating power away from the great majority of registered Republicans and in the hands of a tiny fraction of self-selected, unrepresentative caucus-goers and convention delegates.

To their credit, some of the big GOP names — specifically Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Mike Lee — have decided to follow the path that is in keeping with the law and designed to bring as many people as possible into the electoral process.

Herbert and Lee have filed the paperwork necessary to get their names on the 2016 Republican primary election ballot by gathering signatures on petitions. (As a reasonable hedge, Lee is also going to run via the convention route. Herbert retains the option to do so, too.)

The petitions are the route envisioned as the small-d democratic way of selecting candidates for office by the Count My Vote campaign of 2014. And it is allowed as an option by SB54, the 2015 law passed in answer to that campaign.

There would be no problem now, except Party Chairman James Evans continues to pull out every stop in his efforts to frustrate the will of the Legislature and the widespread public support gathered by Count My Vote.

Just last Friday, he filed another motion in federal court to block the law, and the petition process, and claim for himself and the small number of party pooh-bahs the right to determine not only who gets to be a Republican candidate, but who gets to be a Republican.

Evans' position is no more than a that's-the-way-we've-always-done-it tantrum. It ignores both the right of the Legislature to make state election laws and the growing realization among even many Republican stalwarts that the caucus/convention system has dragged the party so far to the right that it no longer represents even conservative Utah.

One product of that system, Lee, polls public approval below 50 percent, while the Republican-dominated Legislature is viewed favorably by only 39 percent of the public.

Herbert, meanwhile, polls a healthy 55 percent approval rating.

Imagine. Public officials who see that their best path to re-election is to appeal to the largest possible number of voters.

That's the path Herbert and Lee have chosen. The party should get out of their way.