The Utah Republican Party State Central Committee met on August 27, and one of the major items of business on the agenda was selecting the Party’s 2012 caucus date. (Click here for a full report from this meeting). The committee voted to hold Republican caucuses on Thursday, March 15, 2012. Mark your calendars now and please plan to attend.
The committee was presented two dates from which to choose: Tuesday, March 13, or Thursday, March 15, 2012.
Originally, Democrats and Republicans were both going to hold caucuses on March 15. However, the Democrats changed their caucus to March 13. This put the Republicans in a bind, forcing them to choose between two major scheduling issues:
1) Holding caucus on the same day as the Democrats would require people to choose to attend one caucus or the other, rather than infiltrating/influencing the other Party’s caucus, elections, operations, etc. — which would affect the Party for the next 2 years;
2) The candidate filing deadline is March 15; if caucus was held on March 13, before this deadline, delegates would not know exactly who would be running for office, candidates who file before caucus night might not know who their competition would be (and therefore how many delegates they would need to get to caucus to ensure their victory), and candidates who file after caucus night might not have had the opportunity to get their supporters to caucus.
Traditionally, political parties in Utah have held their caucuses on the same night, and for about the past 10 years that night has been a Tuesday. Many in the Party pushed for the Thursday night date, and frankly I think it’s because this date is helpful for candidates. Holding caucus night after the filing deadline removes a level of uncertainty from their campaigns. However, nine out of 10 delegates I talked to insisted without hesitation that Party caucuses should all be held the same night.
I have nothing against making things easier on our candidates, but I do have a problem with favoring the candidates at the expense of the delegates and the Party organization. We all know the name of the game for candidates is getting their supporters to attend caucus and getting them elected as delegates, and that’s fine; that’s just how the system works mathematically. However, holding our caucuses on a different night than our rival party allows our rivals the chance to attend both their caucus AND ours, and do what they can to either get elected as delegates or make sure that the delegates who are elected will not be those most helpful to the GOP cause.
We elect delegates to serve in many capacities for 2 years, not for one day or for one candidate, and our Party would be greatly affected if we experience political party crossover at caucus. Because of the odd date selected by the committee, political affiliation and ideology is something we will have to be especially conscious of at our upcoming caucuses.