Saturday, May 10, 2008

Utah State Republican Convention

I've got a few pictures to add later, but I have to say that this year's convention was a much bigger production than two years ago. You had the Huntsman/Herbert tent, then you had the Leavitt/Shurtleff suite and the Cannon suite. Cannon's was the best overall, with a Wii, the best spread of the morning, and a Pepsi machine. Nothing beats an open soda bar! At any rate, my wife and I arrived at the convention expecting a good matchup between Cannon and Leavitt in a nice and interesting primary. If anybody could have knocked Cannon out in a primary, it would be Leavitt - he's got the money and he's got the name. At any rate, we got there and were immediately given more trinkets than you'd get at CES. We had water, donuts, bagels, pens, fans, candy, and more. It was great. One thing I didn't see a lot of was the candidates. We swung past all of their booths and looked before parking ourselves in some prime real estate, the balcony of the Cannon suite. There was the typical Mike Ridgeway challenge this and annoy that going on, but let's move beyond the usual and get the the real meat of the situation, the 3rd District vote.Of the legitimate candidates (sorry Stone and Joe, you weren't among them), David Leavitt went first. Right up until the end I was going back and forth between Leavitt and Chris Cannon. I still consider them both top flight candidates, and I would absolutely have voted for him if the circumstances were a bit different. Unfortunately, his presentation left me a bit cold. The video was the best, but I don't think he had enough substance for the angry rabble. They were looking for someone who would take Chris Cannon by the neck and rip his jugular out with his bare teeth. That someone was Jason Chaffetz. He got up there and gave everyone in the crowd the best string of one liners that I've ever seen. "Leavitt spent 6 times more than me!" "I like Jon Huntsman, but global warming is a farce! [note: I (Sorro, not Chaffetz, although who knows if he does as well or not) think that global warming is happening, I just don't think that it's the fault of humans so much as Mother Nature]" "We don't need another attorney in Congress!" Beyond that, he managed to sneak in a nice little last second attack on Leavitt with his despicable spying/taking out of context of a quote from one of Leavitt's Pizza and Politics meetings. That's always a sign of someone who's running a nice, clean campaign - dirty tricks, rabble-rousing, and generalized douchebaggery. At any rate, after he gave the same speech, ending with the same idiotic, cynical, and focus-grouped to death "God bless you and God bless the United States of America," Cannon came out. He actually did a pretty good job. I really like Chris. He's a fantastic individual and at the end of the day, the candidate I supported. At any rate, he's not the most articulate of the candidates, which is one reason why it's surprising he's lasted this long as our Congressman. He's had serious challenges every single term and for him to continue to represent us despite some of those challengers having a very gilded tongue means that he must be doing something right.
After Cannon's speech, we voted. After the results came back, everybody in the room was a bit stunned. Chaffetz was first with around 40% of the vote, Cannon was second with a 30% or so, and Leavitt was last with 20%. That was a shocker. Even though Leavitt's last speech wasn't great or anything, I still thought he was the best challenger. My wife couldn't stop saying how bad she felt for Leavitt - she had seen him sweating it out before the results were announced. It was clear to everybody that it was over for Leavitt except for the formality of a second vote. I was saying to my wife that if I was Leavitt I would have immediately started swinging the vote to Cannon. A few minutes later, that was exactly what I heard was happening. We had our second vote and Chaffetz jumped over 50%, getting most of the votes from the two fringe candidates in the process. Leavitt was officially eliminated, and I said if I was Leavitt, I would have all of my Orange Shirts grab Cannon signs and show all of my supporters that I was swinging to Cannon. Then lo and behold, I saw something that made me cheer with delight. Leavitt's people did precisely what I said - they came into the hall all carrying Cannon signs. After a fair amount of booing from the Chaffetz people, they left when the party leadership booted them for campaigning on the Convention floor. Then Leavitt and Cannon strode out, shoulder to shoulder, and walked around, meeting people. Of course, there was more booing, as apparently 2 people can't walk around together anymore (yes, I realize it was an endorsement, but nevertheless, there wasn't anything wrong with it). We cast our third ballots and waited. While we were waiting, my wife and I talked with Leavitt about how much we appreciated the way he ran his campaign with integrity. He knew who I was - not as a delegate, but he knew this blog and that I ran it. Not that it's very difficult to figure out if you try, but I didn't expect that from him. At any rate, we went back up to the Cannon suite and waited it out, hashing over different scenarios and whinging about how awful things would be if Chaffetz was our Congressman - you know, all of that end of the world stuff that my crazy aunt mentioned and whatnot. I seriously would write in someone else if he somehow makes it out of the primary. Anyway, after waiting around for a while, we discovered the tally - Chaffetz missed a 60% majority by 6 votes. 6 votes. That is amazing. I can't imagine anything closer than that, and I can't be happier because it means that Cannon will be back. Chaffetz can't compete against him for name recognition, and his austere campaign can't pat itself on the back if they suddenly start spending money to get him elected - after all, it's not fiscally responsible to spend money on a campaign. It's better to not win and be proud that you were so much better than everyone else because you were cheap.

EDIT: Links to other reports from the floor:
Basically Speaking
Oblogatory Anectodes
Phil Windley
Leadership that Delivers (official GOP liveblog)
Sausage Grinder


Anonymous said...

You drank the Koolaid on Leavitt. He says he's a statesman, got his butt kicked, and then knowingly breaks the convention rules, disregards the convention moderator's announcement to not campaign on the floor, sends kids out to break the rules...good "statesmanship" eh?

Anonymous said...

I was there when the booing began. As much as you want to tell yourself it was just Chaffetz people, that's not what I saw. I saw Leavitt and Cannon people (although a disturbing number of them were like Sorro and believed the rules don't apply to their favored candidate).

Delegates from the first and second district were also booing and disgusted. It was heartening to see how many delegates actually care about ethics.

Cannon stayed alive by 6 votes and he had to cheat to get those. And you seem to condone the cheating.

I'm done reading your blog. You have no more integrity than Cannon or the Statesman himself.

Sorro said...

I'm sorry you feel that way. I didn't say that it wasn't a violation of convention rules, or that it wasn't even iffy (although because I wasn't down on the floor I couldn't tell who was booing - but there was a fair amount of cheers punctuating those boos). I do think that it was an astute political move on Leavitt's part. How else was he going to show people that he was throwing his support behind Cannon before they punched their ballots? I will say that after they got tossed off the floor and one of the volunteers then went up and wrote "David Leavitt supports Chris Cannon" on one of Leavitt's signs. That was a bit much after they had just been told to knock it off.
Then again, every single candidate campaigned from the floor of the convention (they did have to tell Chaffetz and Leavitt people the same thing right before the first ballot). I love how you impune my integrity though, considering that I just sat there and voted instead of, say going down there and campaigning. Notice that I clearly stated that they were booted for campaigning from the convention floor. That certainly wasn't condoning their actions. I kept out of the fray, and it sounds like some sour grapes that I am happy Cannon won.

Sorro said...

While we're talking about poor conventionsmanship, might I also mention the intimidation tactics Chaffetz' team was using - accosting the Cannons as Chris went through the balloting line? You want to talk about breaking rules? Leavitt's offense was more visible, but certainly no worse than that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Cannon "cheated" to get those votes. If Leavitt wanted to condone Chris, that's his choice. Maybe it wasn't done in the best way (though all I heard the guy say was that you couldn't pass out campaign literature...and they did leave once asked) but it wasn't "cheating." Every delegate had their choice of who to vote for. They could have ignored Leavitt getting behind Chris. We asked Leavitt why he did so seeing as he had been against Cannon and he said "there are worse things than Chris Cannon." Take that to mean what you will, but seeing as they have campaigned with Chaffetz all these months and still threw their weight behind Cannon, that says something. He could have not gone behind anyone, but he went behind Cannon because he was that concerned about Chaffetz taking office (as I was). Personally, I think that those 6 votes were an act of God. If Chaffetz beats Cannon in a primary, so be it. I'll live with it. However, I didn't think that him winning in the convention would have been an accurate representation of what the public would want should they have a choice in the matter. Yes, they voted us in, but most of the people involved in politics (therefore those doing the voting in of the delegates) are very opinionated and tend to be very right-winged, unlike the public as a whole. All in all, I think the right thing happened and am quite satisfied as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the convention rules were broken when Leavitt's supporters carried Cannon signs onto the floor - there is really no penalty attached to that - what I can't get past is all the lying about it afterwords. The Salt Lake Tribune stated "Cannon said the signs were being carried by young Leavitt supporters who were eager to show their support and unaware of the rules." I saw Cannon and Leavitt passing out the signs to these young kids, none of whom looked old enough to vote, and instructing them on where to go and what to do. If you're going to do it, own up to it. Don't blame the kids, they knew the rules because they had already been asked to stop with the signs before the first round of voting.

Ken said...

Nice well written article. I totally disagree with you on the Leavitt/Cannon debacle. That stunt came very close to unseating Congressman Cannon. I was in the Davis County section, not even in his district, and many of them were booing so it wasn't just Chaffetz supporters. I think that made up the minds of a lot of delegates that may have been straddling the fence.

I agree with you, global warming is a farce and it is one of the gripes I have with Governor Huntsman. It would have been nice to see the Governor mingle with the delegates like he did when he ran the first time. I also mentioned in my blog how unavailable many of the candidates were this year. To his credit Chris Cannon was one of the exceptions. My own Congressman Rob Bishop was very accessible even though he was running unopposed. that says a lot about his character.

Sorro said...

Another note to the Anonymous poster #2 - from Sausage Grinder ( talking about the "violation" of Leavitt's Orange Shirts carrying Cannon signs into the convention floor:

"Chairman Stan Lockhart said if it was a violation, someone would have been said from the stage and nothing was said from the stage."

Although they did ask them to leave, they didn't say it was a violation of the rules. Whether it helped or hurt Cannon is still a matter of debate, although the final tally isn't.