This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When Republican delegates elected Chris Herrod to be their nominee last Saturday, they may have ironically delivered the death knell to the caucus system.
Chances are very good that the winner of the August primary will be a candidate who got on the ballot via signatures, proving that signature-gathering candidates can and do win elections without needing to do well at or even attend convention.
I am sure there will be lots of chest-thumping about how the caucus system is working great, but nominating a candidate with extreme anti-immigration views is out of touch with most Utahns.
In theory, the caucus system could allow for true local representation, but it would have to involve something like jury duty, randomizing possible delegates in each precinct, then requiring those nominated to go and serve. Of course, we all know it doesn't work that way and caucuses are known for often nominating the most extreme candidate.
When those candidates reach the primary, they often pivot to appeal to the center-right voters who traditionally vote in Utah's primaries. And nothing says "pivot" like scrubbing a ranty far-right-wing blog immediately after winning the nomination. The Internet never forgets, however, and you can find gems like these by going to ChrisHerrod.net:
"It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to understand that no single political tool of the left has threatened religious freedom as has illegal immigration." and "We continue to lack the courage to do that which is necessary to protect ourselves and protect our children's future. We fail to secure the border from illegal aliens, Muslim extremists and even Ebola, but in reality deadly effects have already occurred. As we worry about Ebola, many have already died from Human enterovirus 68 likely spread from our Southern Border. Who needs terrorists when thousands of illegal aliens fill our prisons for murder, rape and other violent crimes or stress our already vulnerable healthcare system?"
As a compassionate conservative, this is not a position I can support. I have written previously about ICE crackdowns on moms shopping at craft stores, and sending people back into the shadows out of fear. That is not right. Hardline stances like these are not conservative. They are anti-family, pro-big-government and the opposite of "fiscally conservative."
I've heard the lectures about it being "compassionate" to separate families so they can learn to obey the law. Please. That makes as much sense as deporting someone for speeding on I-15. Both are civil infractions.
I've also heard how unfair it is to those who want to come here legally. I don't disagree with that. The U.S. immigration system is broken. We used to have a guest worker program where seasonal workers could come across the border, work, then go home at the end of the season. That ended over 50 years ago. We currently have a whopping 185 different types of visas and "arbitrary and capricious" decision-making when it comes to who is granted a visa.
Fixing legal immigration would largely solve the problem of illegal immigration and then we could focus resources on going after the "bad hombres," as President Trump calls them, rather than the moms at craft stores.
In the end, the primary election for Utah's 3rd Congressional District will pit three men against each other: Chris Herrod, the choice of just over 400 delegates. Mayor John Curtis, who is wildly popular in Provo and who also has a voting record that groups like "Club for Growth" like to attack. And then Tanner Ainge, a young unknown who is just forming his political opinions and who wasn't even a registered voter when he filed to run but who can tap into serious amounts of money.
Curtis is the presumptive front-runner, but if he and Ainge split votes, there is a path for Herrod to come out on top. If that happens, I'm hearing that Count My Vote will re-start their petition to go signature-only, and this time, they will not stop.
Either way, it looks to me like the delegates' actions last Saturday may be the final nail in the caucus system's coffin.
Holly Richardson is a compassionate conservative who puts people and principle over party.