A fitting follow-up to a post I wrote two weeks ago on Utah’s unbalanced two-party system is a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune by Paul Rolly about Utah’s defective caucus system. Rolly suggests that the lack of candidates is a result of the current caucus/convention system.
While his point is arguably true, Rolly’s article also inadvertently sheds further light on the immense disparity between our two major political parties.
According to Rolly, for the first time in his 60-year memory, Weber County will not have elections for either of its two county commission seats. Republican candidates won a majority of the delegate votes at the recent Republican convention making them the automatic Republican nominees.
But here’s the zinger, there are also no Democratic challengers in either race. This means that both Republican candidates have locked up their county commission bids based solely on the results of the Republican convention. Neither of them will have to participate in the general election.
In another election bid, this time for Weber County Attorney, Republican incumbent Chris Allred won a majority of the delegate votes as well, allowing him to avoid a primary election and making him the automatic Republican nominee.
There is no Democratic challenger in this race either. Allred is the automatic winner of the general election.
In Davis County, Rolly says there are currently nine races in which there are no Democratic challengers. All the candidates in those races that ran unopposed at the Republican convention will also get automatic wins in the general election.
While the Utah general election is still 6 months away, for many Utahns, it is already over. I believe another Republican shell-shocking is under way.
But why are we surprised? This has been the case for the last 40 years. Utah Democrats have not controlled the House since 1975 or the Senate since 1977.
Voter turnout has also dropped in Utah after being ranked in the top 10 during the late 70’s, to the bottom five since 2006.
Why should people vote if their vote doesn’t count?
I agree with Rolly. The extremism bred by our current caucus/convention system would be nullified if there were a direct primary. But a direct primary will still carry little weight if the Democratic Party can’t step up to the mound.
It is time to end the progressive purity crusade and figure out how to win elections in Utah.
There are countless numbers of Utahns who want a clear choice at the polls; I hope the Democratic Party is listening.