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Paul Rolly: Davis County's GOP boss has to go, insiders say

Published July 7, 2014 12:17 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Some Davis County Republicans have prepared a letter declaring their chairman has not been legitimate since he was elected last year.

The letter has been signed by more than 10 members of the county's Republican Central Committee, including some elected officials. Ten is the number required by GOP bylaws to officially call an emergency Central Committee meeting.

The letter will be presented Monday to Joe Levi, who has been the party's vice chairman since the duly elected vice chairwoman, Lisa Bingham, resigned May 30. She alleged the party leadership is dysfunctional.

The letter asserts a new party boss is needed because the elected chairman, Phill Wright, was not qualified. It urges Levi to call an emergency meeting of the Central Committee to elect a new chairman.

I revealed in Wednesday's column that Wright was not a registered Republican at the time he was elected chairman in June 2013.

Party bylaws require that an officer, delegate or even a voter in a GOP primary be a registered Republican.

Wright was a registered Republican when he voted in the primary in 2012. But when he filled out a vote-by-mail card for the general election that year, he failed to check the GOP box to identify his affiliation. By law, that compelled the county clerk to change his status to unaffiliated.

Wright said he didn't know his status had changed until he went to vote in last month's GOP primary. When he was informed he was ineligible to vote, he registered that day as a Republican.

Critics point out that when a voter's affiliation changes, the county clerk sends that person a voter-identification card with the new status. So Wright would have gotten the new card back in 2012 identifying him as unaffiliated.

The Davis County GOP asked the clerk's office for a list of all registered Republicans before the party caucuses in March. So the party had that list and Wright was not on it.

In April, the clerk's office sent a notice to all unaffiliated voters reminding them that if they wanted to vote in the GOP primary, they would have to register as a Republican.

As an official unaffiliated voter, Wright should have gotten that mailer.

As chairman of the Davis County GOP, Wright was also a member of the Republican State Central Committee and participated in those meetings where decisions were made, including the choice of a new attorney general.

Party regulars now are wondering how his unaffiliated status went undetected.

Wright has said it was an oversight and shouldn't disqualify him. But he and his allies aren't so forgiving when it comes to someone not in their clique.

They're trying to remove party secretary Kathleen Anderson. Last year, when she ran for secretary, Anderson learned the night before the convention by then-Chairwoman Kris Kimball (Wright was then her vice chairman) that she was not eligible to run because she was still a registered Republican in Salt Lake County. Anderson had moved to Davis County that March.

Anderson's allies then got Davis County Clerk Steve Rawlings to register her in Davis County at 10 p.m. the night before the convention.

prolly@sltrib.com