West Valley City • A mostly-maskless shoulder-to-shoulder crowd crammed into the Maverik Center on Saturday morning for the Utah Republican Party’s annual state convention.
“And they said you wouldn’t come!” party chair Derek Brown said to the assembled delegates.
“This is the largest gathering of Republicans, actually of human beings I’ve been a part of in the last year,” said Brown, who chose to not pursue another term in office after a tumultuous two-year term.
Saturday marked the party’s return to in-person events after their biennial caucus meetings and state convention was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The final delegate count showed 2,145, or just over half of the party’s 3,600 total, were on hand as the event got underway. Few of the delegates wore masks despite state rules requiring them for gatherings of more than 50 people. There were also several signs placed around the Maverik Center stating that mask-wearing was mandatory.
As the convention kicked off, the crowd of party stalwarts lustily booed Sen. Mitt Romney when he appeared in a pre-produced video to kick off the convention. Rep. Burgess Owens was loudly cheered moments later.
It was an emotional moment as Rep. John Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, delivered the opening invocation. Hawkins missed almost the entirety of the 2021 legislative session as he battled a severe case of COVID-19.
Delegates will vote on new party leaders for the next two years and will consider a resolution to censure Romney for voting twice to remove former President Donald Trump from office during his two impeachment trials.