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Could Utah GOP reform plight fuel initiative effort?
Politics » Push would let hopefuls sidestep convention process, still get on the ballot.


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Hansen said the Leavitt group and Roberts ultimately would work together if it goes forward, but it may be premature to dive into the initiative.

"To be honest with you the group has not made a decision," said Hansen. "They’re just looking at some options out there and what the parties are doing. … If changes are made by the parties then I’m not sure the group would go ahead."

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Hansen said he viewed Saturday’s Republican meeting as "information-gathering," and believes discussions next month and at the Republican state convention in May are more critical.

"This isn’t the caucus system or no caucus system. This is: Can we make improvements to make the system better? Can we make it so more people have a chance to participate in the caucus system?" Hansen said. "Right now, what we’re seeing is there are too many voters in the state of Utah who feel they don’t have an opportunity to participate in the process."

A 2011 report by the Utah Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, said that Utah is one of just a few states that still uses a convention system and the only one that allows parties to preclude a primary election.

The foundation said delegates tend to be the most zealous members of both parties, which has a direct influence on public policy. Changing the system could boost voter turnout and moderate policy, the foundation said.

In recent years, Republican delegates bounced Gov. Olene Walker and Sen. Bob Bennett, both of whom had high public approval, but were not conservative enough for the Republican delegates. Democratic delegates who believed Rep. Jim Matheson was not liberal enough also forced him into a primary in 2010.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke




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