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Utah GOP again rejects reforms to nomination process

Thousands of Republican faithful reject candidate-selection reforms, install first black leader in history.

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Evans had the backing of several prominent Republicans, including Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and several other state legislators and elected officials.

Raised in South Carolina, Evans told how he became a Republican at age 18 after hearing Ronald Reagan speak — a move that upset his parents, who were Democrats. Today, Evans said, they are also Republicans.

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Former Washington County Republican Chairman Willie Billings was elected as the state party’s next vice chairman, and Michelle Mumford was chosen as the new party secretary. Dave Crittenden was unopposed as party treasurer.

Evans said he shares the aim of increasing voter participation, which he sad Count My Vote organizers are promoting and he believes the party can increase turnout and voter involvement while still preserving its caucus-convention system.

"You end up with a more representative delegate base with the more people you have attending the caucuses," Evans said.

Evans inherits the helm of a party that dominates Utah’s political landscape, holding all five state offices, a dominant majority in the Utah Legislature, both U.S. Senate seats and three of the four congressional seats.

But it is also a party that has experienced divisions between its tea party conservative and moderate factions.

And Wright, in his farewell speech to the convention, said that while the party’s dominance is not threatened, the party needs to learn to reach out to various demographic groups to maintain their margins.

"The way to convince people we care about them is to actually care about them," Wright said.

Attorney General John Swallow, who is in the midst of a withering political scandal, attended the convention and received encouragement from several delegates as he shook hands and passed out a letter touting his office’s accomplishments. He was the only elected state official not to address the convention, but he said he is being more productive than ever.

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"Now when I get into the office in the morning, I don’t even read the papers. I just get right to work," he said.

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