Here’s your Caucus Central for all the answers to your questions.
What is a neighborhood “caucus?”
Watch this awesome chalkboard video produced by the Iron County Republican Party under the leadership of Blake Cozzens:
Who is behind the legal challenge to eliminate the caucus?
In short, the Utah political establishment. Much has been said during this election about the “Republican” or “Democrat” or the “Washington Establishment.”
Some history: In 2013 members of the Utah State Central Committee received a copy of a legal brief produced by a DC law firm, Caplin & Drysdale, of whom then Hinckley Center for Politics at the University of Utah Kirk Jowers was of counsel.
Yes, Utah has an establishment, an elite, just as Washington DC does. And yes, our elected officials are as susceptible to lobbyist special interests (the kind that government should NOT be involved in) as Washington DC.
And yes, Utah also has members of the legislature that vote on a winning bill or two when re-election comes around just to look good, all the while voting against limited government principles. It is these elected officials that special interests, the establishment and the oligarchy like to re-elect because they can easily be bought. They are best bought with fancy and expensive TV commercials and big media buys. They LOVE incumbents, especially when they vote their way, even if it’s against the will of the people. Watch out for incumbents! The caucus helps keeps that to a minimum, and that’s why there has been a challenge – incumbents build up great war chests of millions to use against newcomers who challenge them and their voting records that have gone unchecked over the their political careers. And yes, we do have career politicians in Utah.
How is the Party structured?
The Republican Party is a private corporation, as required by law. It is organized much like any private corporation, with a board of directors and executive committee and voting members. On the odd numbered years, the party holds a convention, state and county, to elect officers – a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary and county representatives to serve on the State Central Committee.
On even years, citizens attend a neighborhood caucus to elect their representatives – friends or neighbors they trust to attend these conventions.
A delegate’s responsibility is to attend the events that candidates organize so they can study which candidates they like best. They then attend the convention to vote for those candidates. Federal candidates (Senators, Congress and statewide offices) are elected at the state convention. State legislative officials are elected at the county level, or if multi-county, in a break out session at the state convention.
The State Central Committee meets quarterly (state and county committees) and elect the executive committee members and members of standing committees such as Constitution and ByLaws and Audit. These officers make recommendations on party rules and vote on main party business and expenditures, and they set the rules of the caucus.
Why should I join a party? I’m independent!
That may be true. No one wants to be told what to do or how to vote or what to think. However, even if there were no formal political parties, people have a natural tendency to gather around principles they agree upon, and that is how parties naturally establish. In fact, caucusing is how the Founders of this nation began their deliberations. They would meet in local pubs and discuss the issues and make decisions together.
Fortunately for all of us, this system allows anyone who wants to be involved to get involved. YOU can run for state or county delegate if you choose. Between now and the caucus, talk to your friends, let them know you want to get involved and ask them to attend and to vote for you.
Be smart. Ask all your friends and neighbors for their commitment to vote for you, just in case someone attends with another motive in mind (yes, this DOES happen) and then they nominate your friends, splitting the vote.
How does the party pay for 2000 caucuses?
It takes a lot of fundraising. But a lot of people can help and it makes it possible. Let’s all chip in $5 and that will do it! It’s not mandatory, but this is YOUR caucus and its YOUR vote.
Who can attend a caucus?
Anyone who is registered (30 days advance by mail or 7 days before election -caucus- in person at county clerk’s office. Here’s a registration form.
Where is my neighborhood caucus meeting?
What happens at the caucus?
The party has set the rules for the caucus and a host or a previously elected Precinct Chairman will conduct the order of business, which includes the reading of the platform (divide it up and everyone take turns reading a different plank – much more engaging that way!). Election of precinct officers and delegates and … for the first time a presidential preference poll, rather than a primary. (Utah’s primary is so late in the election cycle that it loses its influence on the national delegate map.)
All voting is by secret ballot. (I prefer voting in person rather than online for privacy and security reasons, even those the systems are said to be secure.)
Lowell Nelson is a trusted leader who understands the rules of the party as no other. From A-Z he has organized a slide show* and a series of short training videos to help you become familiar with the evening where it all begins – with YOU and your neighbors!
*Note: The dates and places on the slides are for Utah County only, but the rules apply statewide for caucus night.
If I’m elected a delegate, then what?
You are elected for a two year term. You are required to attend ONE convention each year, on a Saturday. Mark your calendar and be there. You can’t criticize your elected officials for missing votes if you do the same. This is a commitment.
Make sure you give your correct cell phone and email address and mailing address to the caucus chairman and that the form is filled out correctly. If you don’t, you will not hear from the candidates and you are not going to be able to represent the people that just elected you. This contact information is given to the candidates and their campaigns. Do not give a general business number that goes to the receptionist because that will disrupt your business.
Suddenly you will become the most popular person around. You will receive a ton of emails, automated texts and phone calls, recorded “robo” calls, mailers and invitations to events. It will be a whirlwind. Be grateful for this opportunity. You will have the privilege of getting to know the candidates that others in primary states never have the opportunity to do.
Why do we only get a little over four weeks to get to know the candidates? This is CRAZY!!!
We feel your pain. We can blame the Obama administration for shortening the amount of time we can vet the candidates because of deadlines set for overseas and military absentee ballots to be sent. Our voting time was shortened so those ballots could be printed and processed sooner.
If you are elected a delegate, it is YOUR duty to meet with ALL the candidates, not just your favorite.
Don’t ever hang up on a candidate or a campaign that calls you and rudely ask them to “take my name off your list!” (especially if it’s a candidate you don’t support). It’s difficult work – the most difficult of all – to run for public office. Be grateful and thank them for their hard work.
Be patient. Listen. Learn. Be open-minded. Research. Dig deeper than the surface. Don’t just read the literature or go to a candidate night to shake their hand and hear a one minute speech. Study each candidate out. Go to their website.
Every candidate will tell you they are conservative. But what does that mean? Do they know the U.S. Constitution and the role of government? Does their voting record show it? What IS their voting record? Is it “negative” campaigning if a candidate holds up the opponent’s voting record or something they have said and distinguishes themselves from that? Of course not! That’s the candidate’s job. Then check it out for yourself.
How do I know which candidate is the best when they all say they are “conservative?”
Sometimes delegates vote for someone because they like the way they look, or they know the candidate or the candidate is a friend of a friend, or maybe they’re a trusted business or church associate. Is that how a delegate should judge a candidates?
No. Is that how you choose your doctor, for example? (Well, perhaps some people do, but I wouldn’t trust my best friend to put me under for surgery just because he was my best friend, would you?)
Investigate the candidate’s past voting record or, if they don’t have one, ask who have they supported in the past. Find out how they stand on the issues and how well they know the issues. (How well do YOU know the issues?) Stop listening to the networks and cable TV for all your information. Search online, and know the source of your searches and how trustworthy they are.
Even if you are committed to one candidate, knowing the other candidates is imperative. At the convention there will likely be several rounds of voting to eliminate and narrow the field. If your favorite candidate gets eliminated during the first round, and you don’t know the others, now what do you do?
It is your duty to know ALL THE CANDIDATES well. And know what the Republican Party stands for and how closely those candidates align with it.
It’s amazing how many legislators run as conservative Republicans but then when they vote, they vote in favor of the Democrat Platform most of the time. You may think your representative is the nicest guy in town, but that really doesn’t matter if he’s voting against your values. So how do you know?
Great Resources for Researching the Candidates
Utah Lieutenant Governor Website Financial Disclosures (who’s funding the campaigns – VERY important)
Utah state legislative scorecards
Key Republican Platform bills (fiscally and socially conservative)
Libertarian (fiscally conservative, socially liberal)
What can I expect at the convention?
A lot of people. Check in and credentialing to make sure all voting members are accounted for and have their ballots.
Roberts Rules of Order apply, but the convention will also have its special rules. Be sure you know what they are. Follow along and pay attention.
Members who are more actively involved in the party may challenge the credential report or the motions from the chair. It can take a long time to get everyone credentialed and to go through the opening procedures. Know what’s going on and be respectful.
In the past we had a very knowledgeable parliamentarian who was used throughout the state who has since passed away. Sometimes the newer delegates didn’t know what he was doing and they thought he was being mean spirited and they would boo him, when he was actually trying to keep the proceedings in line with Roberts Rules. If we are a people who believe in the rule of law, we will respect the rules of our own party. Know the party rules before you boo someone.
Plan to spend the entire day, and even into the night if necessary, especially at the state convention.
CONVENTION WEEK-DAY HAZARDS!
Be aware that you will be deluged with literature, pro and con. You may see some “hit” pieces, “eleventh hour stings” with NO documentation about WHO printed the piece – or maybe only an unknown PAC. There may be wild rumors and gossip and a real “October surprise.” You may get mailers, or something in the last two or three days before the convention that smears a candidate with some negative or scandalous information.
Sometimes these hit pieces are arranged “under the table” without the candidate’s knowledge or sometimes it’s a “sting” making the candidate look like they did it, when actually another candidate did it.
If the literature or call or email does not have proper identification, know that it’s a shenanigan. Know your candidates well enough before the convention that you will not be deceived by these tactics. Don’t believe rumors and don’t pass them on. CALL THE CANDIDATE and ask directly.
Campaigns can get nasty, especially among consultants. There is a lot of pressure to win because they want the next job. Very sad, but it’s a reality.
If you have any questions, contact us at AmericanLeadershipNow@gmail.com