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Paul Rolly: GOP party politics ploy backfires in Holladay vote
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It seems the Salt Lake County Republican Party's experiment of instilling party politics into nonpartisan municipal races flopped.

Chad Bennion, the county's new GOP chairman, took the first step by listing on the party's website all the candidates in municipal races who are registered Republicans, explaining that it's his job to help get Republicans elected — even to nonpartisan posts.

The test case came in the Holladay mayor's race — the most blatant example of political divides being wielded in a nonpartisan contest.

Candidate Blaine Anderson made it clear he was a Republican and cited that as the biggest difference between him and his opponent, Robert Dahle. Mailers went out to residents signed by Bennion and other high-profile Republicans, supporting Anderson and listing their past and present party positions.

Josh Romney, son of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also signed the mailer and did robo calls on election eve, telling residents that he and his dad backed Anderson.

One Anderson supporter proposed during a town hall meeting that because the legislators and the Salt Lake County Council member from Holladay are Democrats, they should elect a Republican as mayor to provide "balance."

Early voting and mail-in ballots gave Anderson an edge, 1,460 to 1,270 — 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. That amounted to 60 percent of the eventual overall tally and early voting patterns often reflect Election Day trends.

Not this time. Not after the GOP made party an issue.

Dahle nabbed 1,061 of Tuesday's votes to 729 for Anderson — a 60-40 margin, giving Dahle 2,331 votes to Anderson's 2,189 — 51 percent to 48 percent — and the mayor's chair.

So, for Bennion, it's back to the drawing board.

Forgetting one little thing • Former Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson's film, "The Grand Rescue," was warmly received at an invitation-only premiere at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

The story is about her father, former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson, and other park rangers who rescued two stranded climbers — one severely injured — in Grand Teton National Park in 1967.

By all accounts, it is an intriguing, well-done film.

But there was another memorable moment at the debut.

Gov. Gary Herbert was asked to give a short greeting, which was met, shall we say, with some head scratching from the audience.

"It's not often we have a world premiere in Utah," Herbert said.

Well, except for the several world premieres each year at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival.

Herbert's apparent forgetfulness of the world-class annual film fest occurred four days before the scheduled "Governor's Salute to Robert Redford: A Utah Tribute to an American Icon," a black-tie gala Saturday evening at the Grand America Hotel hosted by, of course, Herbert.

Showing true colors? • Who would have thought of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, as a closet liberal?

But right there, among his arguments against the Affordable Care Act — contained in the flurry of emails he has sent to constituents asking them to give him money so he can defeat Obamacare — is this gem:

"No bureaucrat should be allowed to get between the doctor and the patient."

That's what liberals have been arguing for years in their case for women's reproductive rights.

Perhaps Lee should ask Emily's List for a campaign contribution.

prolly@sltrib.com

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