A small group of Utah Republicans is pushing for the state party to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, but there appears to be little appetite for it.
Earlier this week, Larry Meyers, sent an email to members of the Utah GOP State Central Committee advocating for a special meeting to consider a number of items, including the proposed censure of Romney. The central committee acts as the governing body of the state party.
Meyers told The Salt Lake Tribune in a text message that what that censure would say has not been decided yet.
“It would likely be very straightforward, citing the impeachment trial votes and stating that the SCC censures him,” wrote Meyers, who did not respond to follow up questions.
Meyers is the chairman of the Platform Republicans PAC, which issued its own censure of Romney earlier this week. The group, which includes several members of the GOP Central Committee, criticized Romney for being one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump for inciting the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In the email chain obtained by The Tribune, Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown questioned the need for a special meeting, citing no outstanding business. But he did ask the members to weigh in on whether they were interested in conducting a special meeting. Meyers said he had 25 GOP members interested in a meeting, which is far below the threshold required. Utah GOP rules require support from 25% of the more than 180 members on the committee.
Shortly after Romney’s vote on impeachment, a proposed censure attacking Romney for misrepresenting himself as a Republican when ran for the Senate in 2018, and accused him of being a “deep state” agent circulated on social media.
In reaction, the Utah GOP issued a statement supporting both Romney and Sen. Mike Lee, who voted to acquit Trump. “The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought.’ There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah,” it read.
This would not be the first censure of Romney proposed by members of the Central Committee. At the conclusion of the first impeachment trial, Romney became the first senator to vote to convict a president from his own party. A group considered condemning Romney, before eventually opting for a diluted resolution praising Trump.
Several state Republican parties have disciplined or criticized the other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump.
Along with the censure of Romney, Meyers suggested considering changes to the party’s caucus/convention nominating system in light of the failure of SB205, sponsored by Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton. That bill aimed to create a mechanism that could allow the Utah GOP to ditch the signature-gathering route for candidates. The bill died in the final week of the legislature after a meeting involving several prominent Republicans, including Gov. Spencer Cox and Brown.
Brown warned in one email that any attempt to alter the 2014 compromise law that created the signature path would endanger any future efforts to reform the law.
“It’s likely that no one will ever really know the countless hours that our leadership team spent during the last few months working to secure the passage of SB205. We came closer than we have ever come to finding resolutions on these issues, and we gained ground no one thought we could,” wrote Brown.
“Some of us disagree with your suggestion that we, the SCC members, should sit back and wait for someone to negotiate a deal,” countered Meyers in a follow-up email. “That didn’t work in the session, so perhaps we need to take a different approach.”
Brown declined comment, saying his job as party chair was to facilitate a special meeting if enough members of the central committee desired to hold one.