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Rolly: Push to bump Ainge from Utah GOP ballot could backfire on Herrod supporters

First Published      Last Updated Jun 26 2017 11:21 pm

The new frenzy on Republican social media sites is that Tanner Ainge should be disqualified from the GOP primary ballot for the special congressional election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz because he didn't register to vote in time.

The argument is faulty, according to Utah election officials.

Yes, Ainge was not a registered Utah voter when he filed to run as a Republican for the seat. He qualified for the ballot by gathering the required number of signatures, skipping the GOP convention.

His failure to register may have been due to an oversight by the Utah Driver License Division when he moved back to the Beehive State. He checked the box indicating he wanted to register, but the form never was completed.




The election office discovered the omission weeks after he filed his candidacy. But for his filing to be challenged, someone would had to have issued a complaint with the office within five days of the filing deadline.

Nobody did. Even if they had, there are provisions that would have allowed Ainge to fix it. He did, and he is now a registered Republican on Utah's voter rolls.

Here's the irony: Republican purists on social media argue that Ainge should be thrown off the ballot because of that technical error. Most of those making that argument on GOP blogs or websites are declared supporters of Chris Herrod, whom delegates selected at the convention to be their candidate.

Political pundits say Herrod's best chance of prevailing in the three-way primary is if Ainge and Provo Mayor John Curtis split the vote among the more moderate Republicans and the extreme right wing sticks with Herrod. That scenario would have Ainge and Curtis getting more combined votes than Herrod, but Herrod still would squeak by with less than 50 percent of the vote.

So Herrod, a former Utah legislator, may stand a better chance if Ainge stays on the ballot.

Ainge's bigger worry than the qualification issue is if his father, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, signs NBA star Gordon Hayward away from the Utah Jazz just before the primary.

The Utah way • Speaking of Chris Herrod, he has had some scrutiny since the convention due to his social media habits.

I wrote of his silly doctored-photo blog posts about spanking KSL Radio commentator Doug Wright, his "drain the swamp" illustration featuring Republican legislators he apparently doesn't like, and an altered image showing another political foe shaking hands with Adolf Hitler.

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed columnist Holly Richardson wrote about his rant against undocumented immigrants to appease right-wingers among the delegates that was then taken down after the convention when a more moderate message to the larger GOP base is needed.

Now, the movers and shakers in Washington, D.C., have gotten a taste of the delegates' nominee hoping to be the next member of Congress.

They received an invitation last week from High Cotton Consulting to meet one on one with Herrod while he was in the nation's capital to learn more about him.

The invitation included a bio, which noted Herrod's elementary and high school experiences, his degrees from Brigham Young University and his epiphany while on his way to Ukraine for a teaching assignment.

Sitting next to him on the plane was "a gentleman from India," the bio said, who told him that Kharkov, Ukraine, has the prettiest women in all of the former Soviet Union. Then, as he stepped off the plane, a young woman assigned from the university was holding a sign with his name on it.

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