This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Since the tea party revolt of 2010, the Utah Republican Party has succumbed more and more to political rhetoric that often has no connection to reality and if ever put to policy would probably be a disaster for the state.
But the movement attracted people who were mad, even if they weren't exactly sure why they were mad, and it was fueled by the Wall Street bailout, Obamacare and the growing number of Hispanics making beds in hotels and taking orders at fast-food restaurants.
Certain key words will be sure to drive the tea party swarms bonkers, and they are used by politicians to gain some swagger and maybe even knock off an incumbent or two by calling him or her part of the establishment.
"Guest worker permit" "Ooooooooooooh."
"National Monument" "Oooooooooooh."
"Common Core" "Oooooooooooooooooh."
And the most toxic of all: "Count My Vote" "Ooooooooooooooooooooh."
It's that last one that elicited the most vitriol among Republican purists those who go to the neighborhood caucuses and get themselves elected delegates so they, the real Republicans, will be the ones nominating Republican candidates and not the unwashed masses.
That sentiment was made loud and clear at the Republican county and state conventions last month and here is where it gets kind of funny.
The delegates seemed to respond like Pavlov's dogs to certain key words without putting any thought to the reality behind them and, as a result, made some interesting choices that belied the rhetoric that excited them.
Delegates were ready to punish Republican candidates who didn't adhere religiously to the sanctity of the caucus convention system and instead gathered signatures to get on the primary ballot, as made possible by Senate Bill 54, the compromise legislation that allowed for both paths to the ballot.
Some of that animosity, though, was like cutting off their collective noses to spite their collective faces.
Take the race in Senate District 16, for example.
Veteran Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, was in a convention fight with former Rep. Chris Herrod, who criticized Bramble for going the signature gathering route as well as the convention path to insure a spot on the primary ballot.
Herrod eschewed the signature-gathering process because, as the argument went, he was the pure Republican.
Delegates responded by giving Herrod enough votes at the GOP State Convention to force a primary.
But here is the rub.
If it hadn't been for Bramble, the delegates would have had no say in the nominating process. SB54 was a compromise devised by Bramble when it became clear that Count My Vote supporters would get enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot to change the caucus convention system to a direct primary. And it would have passed.
Bramble's compromise preserved the system where delegates could choose a primary election candidate besides those qualifying through signature gathering.
So they rewarded Bramble for saving their system by forcing him into a primary, which they hate.
Here's another enigma from the convention.
There were several examples of delegates punishing candidates for gathering signatures to get on the primary ballot.
But when it came to the votes for the coveted national delegate spots, an overwhelming winner was Spencer Stokes, who formed the company called Gather that contracted with many of the candidates to gather the needed signatures needed to get on the ballot without the delegates' blessings.
And here's another.
At the Salt Lake County Convention, incumbent Fred Cox did not gather signatures for the primary ballot in House District 30, showing his loyalty to the caucus convention system, and criticizing his opponent Mike Winder for gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot.
But when it appeared Winder might have enough delegates at the convention to eliminate Cox anyway, Cox supporters argued that since Winder already was on the ballot through signature gathering, they should vote for Cox to force a primary so the people could decide. Those would be the same people who shouldn't be allowed to decide because the delegates know best, according to the purists' argument.
The same thing occurred at the state convention when supporters of challenger Jonathan Johnson argued that because Gov. Gary Herbert had already qualified through signature gathering, delegates should make sure Johnson had enough delegates for the ballot so the people those unwashed masses could decide.