As Sen. Mitt Romney took the stage at last year’s Utah Republican Convention, the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos and shouts of “traitor” and “communist.” The hate came after Romney voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump. Gov. Spencer Cox also caught a smattering of boos for supporting COVID-19 restrictions.
At Saturday’s Republican Convention in Sandy, Romney and Cox might find themselves even further from their party’s favor. Last year when the boos rained down, outgoing party chair Derek Brown scolded delegates to “show respect” for Romney and silenced the crowd.
This year the party chair is Carson Jorgensen, a sheep rancher who recently went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program, where Carlson claimed that “Spencer Cox and Mitt Romney aren’t simply liberals who are working for the agenda of the Democratic Party. They have unmasked undisguised contempt for Republican voters.”
“We have to be careful with this kind of woke ideology,” Jorgensen responded.
We’ll know how far the Utah Republican base has moved to the right after Saturday’s convention, in part based on how several candidates with extreme views fare among the state’s GOP delegates.
QAnon, ‘Shadow President Trump’ and election fraud claims
Several Republicans hoping to reach the June primary — or win the Utah Republican Party’s nomination outright — at Saturday’s state convention have fully embraced or expressed support for extreme political views.
Those positions cover the full spectrum of far-right politics, Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent, or that Trump is “President in exile,” to outright support of QAnon conspiracy theories.
One of the more extreme Republicans running on Saturday is Angie Martin. She’s part of a trio of Republicans challenging incumbent Daniel Thatcher in Utah’s SD11. Martin, a retired police officer, operates the “Stand Up Against Tyranny” Telegram channel, which hosts a constant stream of posts from fake news and conspiracy websites.
She has directly quoted “Q,” the purported high-level government official who claimed former President Donald Trump was secretly fighting a global cabal behind a Satanic pedophile ring. There are multiple posts about “frazzledrip,” a conspiracy that claims Hillary Clinton and a former aide participated in a murderous, Satanic ritual.
Martin has also warned of a “Muslim invasion” financed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that would result in beheadings for Christians. In a recent online town hall, she suggested she was at least partially responsible for former President Donald Trump firing former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and claimed she “exposed” Michigan Attorney General Keith Ellison as a “jihadist.”
Martin posted on Telegram that “Trump still has overwhelming control of our own military as The Shadow President.” She has argued Trump signed an emergency document before leaving office that will allow him to return “at the time of his choosing” and the Supreme Court will have to act and reinstate him. None of this is possible under the Constitution.
None of the four Republicans in the race gathered signatures, and there’s no Democratic candidate. If none of the candidates receive 60% of the vote on Saturday, the top two will advance to the June primary.
Martin refused multiple attempts to contact her.
One of two Republicans challenging incumbent Ann Millner in SD5 is former Air Force pilot Kevin Hall. Hall’s social media channels include posts about QAnon, COVID-19 denialism, Russian talking points about Ukraine, baseless claims of widespread election fraud and worries about critical race theory.
Hall’s Twitter and Telegram accounts are full of references to human trafficking of children and warnings of pedophilia, which are central issues in QAnon conspiracies. Earlier this month, he posted a video that claimed the Affordable Care Act website was created for the purpose of trafficking children.
Hall has amplified claims about U.S.-funded biolabs possibly being the source of the coronavirus. In social media posts, he also appears to agree with Russian claims that their invasion was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine and that the U.S. and Ukraine are using “secret” labs to develop biological weapons. There is no evidence to support that claim.
Hall has made false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and promoted the conspiracy that Utah’s elections were fraudulent.
Hall did not respond to requests for comment.
Republican Patrick Larson, who is attempting to wrest the GOP nomination away from incumbent state Sen. Evan Vickers, has either scrubbed or locked down much of his past online content. Screenshots preserved by Iron County resident Jesse Harris show Larson advocating for violence against political leaders and calls for revolution.
During the BLM protests in 2020, Larson said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall “needs to be hauled off by her hair” as part of “some 1776 style revolution.”
Larson blamed Democrats voting in the 2020 GOP gubernatorial primary for Spencer Cox’s win, saying it was “time for a literal war.” In March 2020, Larson posted that he believed Congress “should be hung for treason,” but immediately softened the comment by calling it “wishful thinking” later in the same post.
Republican Russell Sias is also challenging Vickers for the GOP nomination. There is no Democratic candidate.
Larson did not respond to requests for comment.
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