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Utah GOP names new leadership

Published January 24, 2011 4:02 pm

Politics • State panel elects Thomas Wright, who has headed S.L. County activities.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Sandy • The state Republican Central Committee on Saturday elected Thomas Wright as the party's new chairman.

Wright, chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, replaces Dave Hansen, who announced in December he would resign to work on Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's re-election campaign.

At the meeting's start, Hansen pleaded for civility, "to make sure we all present proper decorum." The election itself was matter-of-fact and earnest, with only a couple of the losing candidates poking at President Barack Obama or oppressive government.

In his remarks Saturday, Wright said he raised a lot of money, got 40,000 people to vote by mail, and was proud to see the Salt Lake County Council return to a Republican majority.

Pledging to raise $1 million for GOP candidates "and to beat that rascal Jim Matheson," Wright invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech from April 1968 that to serve, "you only need a heart full of grace."

"We're all good people," Wright said. "We all want Republicans to win."

The Central Committee meeting drew 140 credentialed members to the meeting at the Salt Lake Community College Miller Campus in Sandy. Hansen, Vice Chairwoman Kitty Dunn and Secretary Christy Achziger officially resigned as of the meeting.

Achziger was elected party vice chairwoman and Dana Dickson is the new party secretary. The officers will serve until the Republican organizing convention in June.

Hansen leaves a party that is essentially broke, having exhausted its resources in the November election that made Republicans an even stronger force in the already blood-red Beehive State.

His return to Hatch's re-election campaign, an operation he managed in 2004, drew attention last year when The Salt Lake Tribune reported Hansen had been receiving $5,000 a month from Hatch's campaign, even though he had said he would stop being paid by the senator when Hansen was elected state party chairman a year earlier. Hansen stopped taking the payments last summer, said Ivan DuBois, executive director of the Utah Republican Party.

Hansen called the money a bonus for previous work, but other Republicans called the payments inappropriate.