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Herbert hates the primary scramble

Published September 30, 2011 6:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Florida threw the Republican primary process into chaos today when officials voted to move the Citrus State's primary to Jan. 31.

That puts Florida's primary a week ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, which have traditionally been the first presidential nominating contest in the nation, and prompted talk in New Hampshire that the Republican Primary there could be moved to December.

And Utah? Utah is still looking at June 26.

Sen. Margaret Dayton is one of those who would like to see Utah move earlier in the process, but she isn't optimistic that will happen.

"Inasmuch as there are Utah people involved, I would be very much in favor of moving it up and getting a focus on the support there is for Mitt Romney," said Dayton, one of numerous state lawmakers backing Romney. "I think the consensus seems to be among the legislators to not spend the amount of money that would be needed."

Romney backers had pushed for an earlier primary several months ago, but Senate President Michael Waddoups said earlier this month that he thinks there's not an appetite to move it.

I asked Gov. Gary Herbert what he thought that, with other states moving up, Utah should consider going earlier in the process and he dodged. But he said the whole dash to the front of the line is a horrible process.

"If you want my opinion, I think the presidential primary system we have in America stinks," Herbert said. "We haven't even had any votes. Why do we have go to to Iowa or New Hampshire the very first? Why do they get the privilege of winnowing out the presidential field?"

Herbert favors a proposal he backed when he was lieutenant governor that would have four regional presidential primaries and each would take turns being first in the process.

"I think we'd get a better outcome and it would be more fair for the candidates," Herbert said during his KUED press conference Thursday. "I think the whole system needs to be revised and people trying to get ahead of each other to get to the front of the line is indicative that the whole system is broken."

Herbert also said he's not surprised that the Republican field remains fluid and candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie still are generating a lot of buzz.

"As in most cases, it's hard to find the perfect politician, perfect candidate. We always search for that. We looki for Sir Gallahad to ride in on his white horse and say, 'I'm the one. Let me go out and do the jousting and I'll bring back the crown," he said.

"I think on the Republican side, for example, they look and see the sitting president is vulnerable, so let's not muff it up, let's not waste this opportunity. So who's the right person to make sure we win this battle."

— Robert GehrkeTwitter: @RobertGehrke