SANDY, Utah (AP) — Utah Republicans have approved a resolution supporting a pushback against newly approved changes to the process political parties use to nominate candidates for office.
At the party’s nominating convention in Sandy on Saturday, chairman James Evans ruled the measure passed when a majority of GOP delegates held up their event passes to indicate their votes in support.
In March, Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation overhauling the state’s relatively unique caucus and convention system by allowing candidates to bypass that system entirely.
The current system allows candidates to avoid a primary election if they win their party’s nominations with 60 percent of delegate votes.
The new law, which is scheduled to take effect next year, allows candidates who gather enough signatures to instead directly compete in a primary election.
The law was a compromise reached with a group of prominent Republicans who pushed to change the system. The group, called Count My Vote, argued that the caucus system is difficult to participate in and results in extremist candidates.
Count My Vote triggered the compromise by gathering signatures for an initiative petition that would have let voters decide to abandon the caucus system entirely this November. As part of the compromise, Count My Vote agreed to halt the initiative petition.
The new system gives Utah a dual-track for nominating political candidates, similar to the process in Colorado, Connecticut and New Mexico.
Evans has said the Republican Party believes it should have the right to decide how it picks candidates and is exploring whether to take legal action against the state.
On Saturday, Evans said the party’s pushback against the effort is “underway,” and a fight could involve political or legal tactics, but shied away from offering further details.
Utah’s Democratic Party, which is in the minority in the state, has remained neutral.
Supporters of the caucus system argue that it requires politicians to win over delegates in person rather than relying on fundraising and campaign advertisements.
The changes, which start to take effect in 2015, means this year’s convention could be the last time Utah’s political parties use the caucus and convention system to pick candidates.