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Rolly: GOP infighting can get pretty ugly

Published June 23, 2011 7:38 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Sometimes the feuding within Utah's Republican Party resembles a playground fight between 8-year-olds.

The state party's incumbent vice chairman and secretary were defeated at the organizing convention Saturday by two GOP dissidents who are suing the party over its automatic delegate rules. Then things got ugly.

Mike Ridgway, a longtime party dissident who has been stripped by GOP officals of his official party affiliations and barred from party meetings, took credit on his Facebook page for a memo circulated at the convention that blamed party secretary Dana Dickson for rigging the rules to favor party insiders in the selection of convention delegates.

That memo could be one reason Dickson was defeated Saturday by Ridgway ally and fellow dissident Drew Chamberlain. Another dissident, Lowell Nelson, defeated incumbent vice chairwoman Christy Achziger.

A short time after Ridgway's claim of writing the memo, someone claiming to be Ridgway made a friend request on the Facebook page of Nancy Lord, a longtime Ridgway political ally and one-time Republican national committeewoman from Utah.

Lord accepted the request. Then a stream of profanity and insults began showing up on her Facebook wall.

The fake Ridgway accused Lord of giving him "the Clap," and described her in vulgar terms.

After Lord realized what was happening, she removed the comments from her page and posted that they were not from Ridgway but from someone pretending to be him.

It's not the first time, say Lord and Ridgway, that someone has played dirty tricks in the cyberspace realm. In the past, anonymous comments have implied the two were having an affair.

Lord, who lives in Bluffdale, said she has filed a complaint with the Bluffdale Police Department.

Dickson responded that he knew nothing about the fake Facebook until I told him. He said this is a repeat of accusations that Ridgway and Lord have made against him for the past 10 years. He believes the "third grade flier" that Ridgway distributed had no impact on the convention elections. It was another example of delegates wanting to throw out incumbents, he said.

Rule of law • David Kirkham, owner of Kirkham Motorsports which makes the Cobra sports car, is founder of the Utah Tea Party that, among other things, takes a hard-line position against giving any kind of legal easements to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Lawbreakers should not be rewarded, is one of the battle cries.

So it was a little strange Saturday at the Republican State Convention to see two of Kirkham's cool-looking Cobras on display in the parking lot. They were parked diagonally near the entrance to the South Towne Exposition Center. By the way they were parked, they took up three parking stalls while some attendees had to drive around the lot relentlessly looking for a place to park.

One of the cars bore the sign: "Don't Tread On Me."

Pay to play • Inside the South Towne Exposition Center during the GOP convention, the Utah Tea Party booth had a sign letting folks know they could be members of the Utah Tea Party, have their very own Tea Party I.D. card, and a "Don't Tread on Me" rally towel — for just $12.

Piling on • During Sunday's record rainfall, three businesses in the same east bench area decided to run their sprinklers: Wells Fargo Bank on Foothill Drive and 1300 South, Chase Bank also on 1300 South and 2100 East and Larkin Mortuary on 1300 South and 2300 East. Every little bit helps.

prolly@sltrib.com