Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Republofun - The Utah State GOP Convention

Last Saturday was the Utah State Republican Convention, and what an experience. It was my first time as a delegate, and I really enjoyed myself. My district has been home to a very contested race between businessman John Jacob, Congressman Chris Cannon, and perennial candidate and former Congressman Merrill Cook. One of the great perks of being a delegate is getting wined (here in Utah I should say popped) and dined by the candidates.
Most states have a primary where registered voters all elect the candidate, however Utah has a hybrid system. The main election experience is based on a caucus system of sorts. We hold caucuses to elect delegates. These delegates are then given a lot of attention by the various candidates so that when the convention comes they vote for the candidates. If a given candidate gets 60% of the vote in convention, they don't have to go to a primary. Ideally a candidate will win in convention so then they don't have to spend a lot of money on a primary contest. If no candidate gets 60% initially, the lowest candidate in each round will be eliminated until someone gets 60% or 2 candidates split somewhere between 60-40. At that point it goes to a primary.
Now that there is a little background on how everything works, on to my experience. We started bright and early at 8:00 am by travelling to Salt Lake. I got there at 9 and you could immediately tell who was in a tough race or who had a lot of money. All the candidates were walking around trying to convince delegates to vote for them (there was a total of about 5000 delegates who would decide your fate, so it is possible to swing the vote, especially as a House candidate, with only 1500 voting). I talked briefly with Senator Hatch to try and get him to see things my way on health care, but in the end the only topic that truly mattered today was immigration. The opposition candidates were against illegals and the incumbents were slightly less against illegals. Likewise, the delegates were the same way. There was also a big brouhaha about a relatively obscure procedural issue that I won't go into because it's obscure and procedural. It didn't pass.
We broke into Congressional Districts and Jacob and Cannon made their final pitches. They were both rather kind and had good presentations. Cook had a former Treasurer of the United States (not to be confused with the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States - that is a much more powerful and influential position), Bethany Day Bay Buchannan, who proceeded to absolutely eviscerate both Jacob and Cannon. That wasn't the best tone to have as he proceeded to go down to defeat on the first ballot. Even though Cook runs in every race every year, I thought he would have defeated Jacob. Part of this is because Jacob is uneducated on the issues. He just doesn't have the desire to learn it. Another part is because Merrill was more visible most of the time. Finally, and in my mind it can't be underestimated, is that John Jacob's theme song for his campaign was "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt." If nothing else would have turned me off of his campaign, that would have all by itself. That song is literally the spawn of Satan, created in the bowels of Hell by a team of Purgatory's Best Marketers. At any rate, in the end there was a runoff between Cannon and Jacob and Jacob beat Cannon, but not by enough to avoid a primary. It was quite an exciting day for politics buffs like myself.


Anonymous said...

Your comment on Jacob's theme song is HILARIOUS.

Good stuff, keep it up.

Utah Conservative said...

Hold on one second.

It was Bay Buchannan who spoke for Cook. Who in the world is Behany Day?

Also, I don't think that song was Jacob's campaign theme song. It was a bunch of girls singing it.

Cheeth said...

I liked your account of the convention very much.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, as so-called “political buffs” you don’t know the delegate system very well or at all in this case. First, and foremost there are 3500 delegates state wide, not 5000, And only 1100 in the third congressional district, not 1500. Also it was Angela “Bay” Buchanan who nominated Merrill Cook.

As for your crack about John Jacob being “uneducated” on the issues…hello pot it’s the kettle calling. Guess what? Your black!

Sorro said...

Utah Conservative and anonymous 2, It was Bay Buchanan, but for the life of me I couldn't remember her name. I really don't know how I came up with Bethany Day though. I could have Googled "Ronald Reagan" treasurer "United States" and come up with it, but I was lazy and trying to get it done. It's been corrected. As far as the delegate count, anonymous 2, I assume that you must be a John Jacob supporter. The reason I say this is because you nitpick at the edges of the post - I guesstimated the delegate counts and the aformentioned Bay Buchanan thing. At the same time you didn't mention anything about your candidate's lack of preparation on the issues at all. Instead you launch into an ad hominem attack. Maybe I'll follow this up with an account of how I've seen John Jacob's issues preparation. He's a good man, he just should stick to business.
As far as the campaign song, John had those kids singing the song around his booth at the Utah County Convention and he also had them at several campaign events. It's as close to the theme song as any of the candidates have.