Governor Gary Herbert says he’d like to see Utah return to a presidential primary after far fewer people participated in the state’s Tuesday caucuses than in 2008, the last presidential election without a sitting president. But on KVNU’s For the People show on Friday, Senator Lyle Hillyard of Logan said it was an advantage to have a caucus instead.
“We decided not to fund (a primary),” Hillyard explained. “I guess the problem was the party was going to step up and do it as a preference there. I think they hoped to generate more interest in the caucus meetings and have people come there.
“Because there’s two different things. If you have a statewide primary then we do it like we do in November. The county clerk’s office runs it. It costs $3 million.”
The majority-Republican Legislature didn’t want to foot a $3 million election bill just for Democrats, and left that party to run its own caucuses, too. About 280,000 people participated in the Democratic and Republican caucuses on Tuesday. In 2008, about 428,000 people participated. Utah lawmakers decide every four years whether to pay for a primary.