Race for State Chair

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The behind-the-scenes negotiations, finagling, endorsing and encouraging (or discouraging, as the case may be) in the race for Republican party State Chair has led to an interesting line-up as of tonight.

Dave Hansen and Tim Bridgewater are now in the race for state chair, Todd Weiler is out. For vice-chair, we have Morgan Philpot, Christy Achziger and once again, Todd Weiler.

Dave Hansen, long active in the Republican party in Utah and currently on staff for Senator Orrin Hatch, has announced his run for chair, with endorsements from Senators Hatch and Bennett, Representative Jason Chaffetz and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Bennett and Hatch are not surprising, but the endorsement from Chaffetz was received with a fair amount of grumbling from many Chaffetz supporters. When I questioned Congressman Chaffetz on why he would support an “establishment” guy, he reminded me that he makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, that he is now part of “the establishment” himself and that he is also supporting Morgan Philpot for vice-chair, someone who is not a long-time party insider. Chaffetz also said that when he “broke the rules” and ran hard against an incumbent, Dave was very fair to him and is a man of impeccable integrity – a ringing endorsement.  Chaffetz praised Hansen’s fundraising skills and feels that he would do a good job helping candidates to re-take seats lost in the last election, almost all in Salt Lake county.   Hansen will have to convince 50%-plus-one of the state delegates that he is not just there to ensure another run for Hatch or Bennett, as many delegates are quite disillusioned with both of them and count their endorsements as reasons to vote against Hansen. According to the Deseret News, he “ won’t take a party salary but volunteer his time, earning his income by working for Hatch and his other consulting clients”,  a position that is not likely to sit well with many delegates.

Announcing his own run via Facebook later in the day was Tim Bridgewater.  Also a long-time figure in Republican politics in Utah, Bridgewater declined to run for party chair in 2007, saying, also according to the D News,  “I was a 10-state coordinator for Sen. McCain, and was on his campaign payroll, I believed it would be a conflict” to be raising money and doing grassroots work for a … primary candidate ” while still trying to be the spokesman for Utah Republicans.”  He is experienced in grass-roots organizing and has twice garnered more delegate votes than his opponent at state convention, but lost in the primary races to John Swallow, who subsequently lost to Jim Matheson.  He is popular among many delegates and is likely to garner support and endorsements from other heavy-hitters in the political world.

It is shaping up to be quite the race.  Convention is in June.  I look forward to hearing from both candidates between now and then.

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One Response to “Race for State Chair”

  1. RC Says:

    Good info – thanks Holly!

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