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Reformers say changes to Utah caucus system could avert ballot push
Utah politics » The leaders aim to strike a deal with initiative organizers, party majority.

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Opposition • Wright is concerned he has to contend with opposition being fueled, at least in part, by local representatives of FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.,- based group that campaigned aggressively against Sen. Bob Bennett and Sen. Orrin Hatch — helping to defeat Bennett — because they were not conservative enough.

"It does concern me that I hear from different people that there are outside groups from Washington, D.C., in Utah lobbying members of the State Central Committee to do what is best for them in Washington, D.C.," he said. "Why would [they] not want more people to participate? And the only explanation is you have more control by having fewer people participate."

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But Heather Williamson, the Utah director for FreedomWorks, said there is no effort from Washington. Rather, she said she is responding to what she hears from the FreedomWorks members in Utah.

"In Utah, I’ve heard overwhelmingly from our membership base here that they support the current caucus system and don’t want to see the integrity of the current system lost," she said.

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said the caucus reform fight is a Republican civil war, and Democrats are staying out of it.

"Helping this plot by this group of Republican moderates who are trying to steal back power, Democrats ought to stay away," he said. "They’re there because they feel like they’ve lost power to the tea party, so they’re going to change the rules of the game."

That said, Dabakis said Democrats will also have a committee look at potential changes to its nominating system.

If Count My Vote moves ahead with an initiative drive, the changes would affect all political parties in the state.

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