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Utah GOP rejects changes, making ballot drive likely

Choosing candidates » Republican leaders say they like the current caucus and convention system, despite criticism by those who say it give a small group too much power.

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"I was hopeful today that we would pass proposals that would meet the objectives that were put forth by Republicans who have concerns about our caucus and convention system," said Wright. "They clearly stated what those concerns were, and this body did not agree to move in that direction."

The Count My Vote Group has floated the idea of letting a candidate qualify for a primary if he or she gathers signatures from 2 percent of the registered voters in the jurisdiction, rather than having to win support from the party delegates.

At a glance

Republicans embrace status quo

The Republican State Central Committee rejected proposed changes, including raising the threshold for candidates to capture the party nomination outright at convention without a primary. Members defeated an effort to raise that threshold to 70 percent on a 56-74 vote and then rejected a move to require a two-thirds vote to secure the nomination on a 46-79 vote. Currently, a candidate needs the backing of 60 percent of convention delegates to win the nomination without a primary.

Republican leaders have one more chance to change the nominating rules — at the state GOP Convention May 18.

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Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis has said the clash over the nominating process is a Republican civil war, with old-guard Republican moderates like Leavitt "trying to steal back power," and said Democrats should stay out of the fight.

The Republican State Central Committee approved a proposal that gives the party more flexibility on when to hold neighborhood caucuses and how to cast the votes.

Wright said that change is significant and will make it easier to participate for those on religious missions, in the military or with work schedules or family commitments that conflict with the caucus meetings.

Committee members rejected proposals that would have opened the closed Republican primaries by allowing those who aren’t registered members of the party to vote.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke

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