To the annoyance of most of the state’s Republicans, a minority group of purist bullies on the party’s state central committee have once again met to embarrass themselves and the party at large.
At issue, again, is SB54, the state law enacted to provide candidates a signature path to the ballot. A federal court and the Utah Supreme Court have reiterated that the law is constitutional. A federal appellate court is reviewing the case.
But instead of waiting for that appellate decision, this minority cabal on the central committee decided to change the party’s bylaws to set up yet another case for review.
Because they are the party of law, order and fiscal responsibility.
With the bylaw change, a member who seeks the ballot through the signature path would forfeit his membership. These Republican purists argue that the state can control access to the ballot, but the party controls the definition of a member.
Except that the party still has to follow state law. The Republican Party is welcome to define its membership any way it wants. But if it wants its candidates to have access to the ballot as members of a party, state law requires that it allow its candidates to either go through convention or collect signatures or both.
It’s not likely that the GOP will be booted off this year’s ballot. The party has already declared itself a qualified political party. Last year, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox declared there is no mechanism to deauthorize a party once it declares itself a QPP. Thus it is highly unlikely that the Elections Office would remove a candidate of a declared party who follows the law.
Common thought is that the GOP purity cabal called this meeting in order to disqualify Mitt Romney from this year’s senate race. They added a provision at the last minute, though, that excepted Romney by making the bylaw only applicable to candidates in the 1st and 2nd U.S. House districts.
The arbitrary nature of their last-minute exception illustrates the silliness and banality of the bylaw change, not to mention its questionable constitutionality.
The party only requires a minimum of 27 members of the state central committee to change a party bylaw to enact any number of shenanigans. There are almost 629,000 active, registered Republicans in Utah. So the party’s bylaws allow 0.0045 percent of the party’s membership to change how the party defines a Republican.
This latest scheme is just another reason Utahns dismiss the functionality and effectiveness of the party apparatus.
Rather than share its house, this minority group would rather burn the house down.
At this point, it isn’t alone.