This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Two Cache County Republican officials have resigned their posts and left the party after the county party refused to disavow Donald Trump as the party's presumptive nominee.
"It just meant that we needed to act by ourselves," said Jonathan Choate.
In a letter to the party chairman in the northern Utah county, Choate and Andy Rasmussen, both legislative district chairmen and county GOP executive committee members, branded Trump as "antithetical to nearly every traditional Republican value," and said his racism, xenophobia and misogyny make him unfit to be a party precinct chairman, much less president.
Choate and Rasmussen had asked the county party to formally rebuke Trump and disavow him as a candidate, but wanted the vote to be unanimous, a move that some in party leadership were unwilling to make.
So the two resigned their party positions as legislative chairmen and members of the 12-person executive committee and left the party. Choate has joined the Libertarian Party and Rasmussen has changed his status to unaffiliated. Choate says he will be voting for the Libertarian nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.
"I look at [Trump] as a charlatan. He is willing to say anything to anybody depending on the crowd," said Choate. "He is playing on emotions, fear and anger. He does not seem to have any core position other than his own whim, and morally and ethically he is very questionable."
Rasmussen said he will either not vote for president or vote for Johnson. "I'm hoping for a miracle here to give me some other choice," he said.
Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans said he is not aware of any other party officials leaving the GOP over Trump's presumptive nomination.
Trump, however, is unpopular in Utah. He finished a distant third in Utah's Republican caucuses and a recent poll for The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics found him tied at 35 percent with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton no small feat in a state that has not sided with a Democratic presidential hopeful since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Rasmussen said he and Choate have heard mostly positive reaction since they announced their resignations and some have thanked them for taking their stand.
Both men had been registered Republicans for most of the elections since they became old enough to vote. This year, Choate said he was supporting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and, after Paul dropped out, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Rasmussen was halfheartedly leaning toward backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Rasmussen said he hopes to be able to return to the party someday. He said he has been active in the GOP for years and has a number of friends who remain engaged.
"I hope it's temporary insanity here," he said, "but a lot of developments say maybe not, so I'm prepared for it to be permanent."