MOUNTAIN GREEN – Utah’s current political climate seems to be ideally suited for the growth of sour grapes.
Calling the state GOP nominating contest “foul and flawed,” former congressional candidate Doug Durbano of Mountain Green is demanding investigations of that process by both the Utah Republican Party and the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Durbano contends that the party’s practice of letting candidates who have already collected enough voter signatures to quality for the GOP primary ballot to also compete for delegate support during the state nominating convention is a violation of the party’s constitution and bylaws.
“If a candidate chooses to bypass the (nominating convention) delegates by signature gathering, “ Durbano insists, “then they should not have access to the convention and delegates … They are gaming the system to prevent convention-only candidates from getting onto the ballot.”
Durbano was one of 12 Republican who filed early this year to compete for the GOP nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in Congress.
Under Utah election laws, candidates can earn a spot on their party’s primary ballots either by winning the approval of delegates at their party’s nominating convention or by gathering signatures of registered voters.
The initial phase of the ongoing GOP nominating process was complicated by the coronavirus outbreak. Due to the statewide social distancing guidelines, some candidates were unable to gather signatures through traditional canvassing methods. The state GOP nominating convention on April 25 was also non-traditional, being conducted online due to the state’s prohibition on large public gatherings.
Durbano was eliminated in the 10th round of ranked choice voting at the GOP convention where delegates advanced candidates Kerry Gibson of Ogden and Blake David Moore of Salt Lake City to the June 30 primary ballot.
By virtue of previous signature gathering efforts, the names of candidates Bob Stevenson of Layton and Katie Witt of Kaysville will also appear on the GOP primary ballot. Both Stevenson and Witt also competed for delegate approval during the nominating convention.
Durbano says that he has sent a letter to state GOP leaders requesting that they review the party’s conflicting bylaws and resolve any inconsistencies. Although Durbano is a lawyer, he has pledged not to litigate on this issue.
“But I do hope,” Durbano says, “that the press, the Utah GOP, the Legislature and the attorney general will make an honest and in-depth review of this matter and find solutions before the next election cycle.”