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Rolly: Candidate for Utah GOP boss wants party purity reviews for lawmakers

First Published      Last Updated May 11 2017 10:55 pm

Ronald Reagan, we hardly knew ye.

Or maybe you would hardly recognize us.

The 40th U.S. president, a hero to many Republicans, pushed the "big tent" notion in which his party would welcome folks from various backgrounds and ideologies.

That dream, in today's GOP, has been reduced to a pup tent.

The latest proposal to ensure the party purity of elected officials comes from Phill Wright, a candidate for chairman of the Utah GOP.

He posted on Facebook that if he is elected at the state convention May 20, he would form a review committee to examine the votes of Utah's Republican legislators and congressional members to see whether they comport with the GOP platform.

The committee would interview those elected officials and discuss which votes backed the platform and which went awry. The interviews then would be posted on the party's website.

That idea isn't going down too well with some Republican lawmakers, who see it as intimidation to control legislators' voting decisions and ensure that they stay obedient. Perhaps every platform tenet is not always the right way to go, they argue.

Wright told me it is an effort to bring more transparency and keep delegates informed about how their elected officials vote. Most of the time, he said, the votes would agree with what the delegates had decided for the platform and make the officials look good. It would encourage the delegates to contact the officials and thank them for their service.

Wright, currently vice chairman of the party, is running against incumbent Chairman James Evans and outgoing Davis County GOP leader Rob Anderson.

His purity test seems to take a page out of recently defeated Utah County GOP Chairman Craig Frank's playbook. Frank proposed Republican candidates in the county fill out forms to confirm their commitment to party principles and meet with a committee appointed by Frank.

Wonder if Reagan would pass that test?

Speaking of party platforms • Jeremy Roberts is a Republican activist in Utah County who recently put leaders of the county GOP on notice that he may sue them over the way they let a Frank ally take home the ballots from the county convention pending a recount on the votes for state Central Committee candidates.

He has some history with the Utah County GOP.

Roberts, just for fun, ran for Utah County Republican Party secretary in 2011.

His platform, which he posted on his website and Republican social media sites, included opening a cat dairy where cats would be milked daily. He also proposed putting a family of dolphins in Utah Lake, creating an eco-tourism attraction to boost the county economy. He pitched a feral cat theme park and embraced goat sacrifices to ward off evil spirits — like Democrats — that might harm the Republican Party.

So how did the delegates react to that mania?

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