Boos for Romney? Here’s what we learned about Utah’s 2021 Republican Party

Arches National Park is pictured on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Arches National Park is pictured on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The iconic image is known throughout the nation. Not known is what will become of Utah’s political landscape. | Annie Barker, Deseret News

The ghost of President Donald Trump’s presidency continues to divide Utah Republicans

It was a chorus of boos that put Utah on the national radar this weekend — boos that filled the Maverik Center in West Valley City when Sen. Mitt Romney took the stage in front of nearly 2,000 Republican delegates.

Some delegates, despite the boos, stood and applauded the Utah senator who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump. But the deafening boos persisted beyond that applause, and only quieted down after outgoing Utah GOP Chairman Derek Brown took the microphone and told his fellow Republicans:

“This is the moment I was talking about. Please. Thank you. Show respect.”

Brown gave the microphone back over to Romney, followed by applause and cheers, and to a lesser degree, still some boos.

The “moment,” Brown referred to, was from his speech to delegates earlier that morning, urging Republicans to focus on unity and expanding the “big tent” of the Utah Republican Party so that it will remain strong for generations to come, despite an emerging sea of blue in the West that could someday threaten Republicans’ stronghold in the state.

Even though the boos were loud — a moment that Deseret National Executive Editor Hal Boyd called an “embarrassment” — when put to a vote, a censure of Romney failed. It failed narrowly, 798 to 711, but it failed nonetheless.

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The poignant moments from Saturday’s convention, whether it was the booing of Romney or his failed censure, illustrate how the ghost of former President Donald Trump’s presidency continues to divide Republicans, and how Utah’s GOP is trying to navigate that while also charting a new course for its future.

Beyond all the Romney drama, a lot more happened Saturday with big implications for the future of Utah’s GOP.

Here’s what we learned:

Delegates sent a message to establishment Utah Republican leaders that they can’t be told how to vote. They defied an endorsement letter circulated to delegates in which GOP leaders including Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Senate President Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson and others urged delegates to vote for chairman candidate Stewart Peay. Instead, they elected 31-year-old sheep rancher Carson Jorgensen in a second round of voting.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
Sen. Mitt Romney addresses the Utah Republican Party convention on Saturday, May 1, 2021, in West Valley City. Romney was booed as he addressed the Utah GOP convention.

Along with Jorgensen, delegates elected an all-millennial team of leaders, including Jordan Hess, 33, as vice chairman, Olivia Horlacher, 29, as secretary, and Mike Bird, 33, as treasurer.

But their election was less about intentionally selecting millennials than it was about voting against the “establishment,” political pundits said.

A new wind blowing

To University of Utah …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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