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Front Page » June 25, 2002 » Opinion » A View Of Grassroots Political Process
Published 4,321 days ago

A View Of Grassroots Political Process


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By JIM DARTER
Guest Columnist

Upon becoming convinced that I needed to do something, part of which is coming to realize that conservative Christians, the hermeneutical hegemony of the Christian Church has been AWOL from the political scene. I read some literature from the Christian Coalition, which stated that Christians need to become more active and learn to "push the levers of government... beginning with the local school board and local government...."

With this in mind I attended the Republican Party neighborhood caucus March 25. Boy was I in for a surprise. Knowing that Carbon County historically has been Democratic. I, not having any prior experience went through shock, dismay and a moment of disappointment as well as a variety of other thoughts. Some were choice and some are not printable.

Neighborhood caucuses are organized by the precincts where a person votes. I was the only person from Spring Glen and as such I was able to elect myself precinct chairperson, precinct county delegate and last and most importantly the state delegate from my neighborhood.

More surprising to me was that there were other precincts here in Carbon County that did not have anyone show up. Those precincts' state delegates were then apportioned among the precincts with heavy turnouts.

Woody Carter, as Carbon County Republican Party Chair did an excellent job of conducting this meeting. What he had to do was very much reminiscent of herding cats. Woody stated and advised that as state delegates it would be up to us to learn about the nominees for the 2nd district and their positions before the nomination convention.

The following morning as I was in the shower, and having completed my regular graveyard shift, Joe G., the only familiar face from the meetings the night before, came up and wanted to know if I had arranged to be a state delegate. I affirmed that fact and as he turned to go on his day shift he said, "That's where the fun and power is... "

After finishing changing my clothes and while stopping for coffee at a convenience store, I was approached by Jim G., a former coworker from year's back.

"Did I see your name on the Republican Party state delegate list?" he asked.

Now what, I thought to my self. How did he know? That was just last night. Did he sit up all night watching a website as someone made late night postings or what? Somewhat weakly I replied..

"Well yes. "

"What kind of a union miner are you? Just what are you doing being a registered Republican and actively getting involved? Boy you better have a good answer?"

After a slight pause I replied.

"Well the Democratic Party has left the working man and me behind. Historically the Democrats were supposed to represent the working man and they have evolved away. Look at the platforms, the Republicans and their platform is more in line with my thinking."

Finally he gave me a bright smile.

"Well good, you're going to be asked 'why' a lot," he said. " I am going to go and meet Tim Bridgewater and guide him around Carbon County to meet the state delegates. Being as you are getting off work now, are you going to sleep right away or will you be up awhile and sleep later? We would like to stop by and get you introduced."

From there it was a fast forward to May 25 and the state Republican Party Nomination Convention at the South Town Expo in Sandy.

I had been warned that parking was going to be a premium. Previously Jim G. offered to pick me up where ever I wanted if I would pledge to vote for Tim Bridgewater. Dave H. another fellow state delegate had asked me if he could get a ride with me. I laughed and told how I was being "bribed" with a ride for a pledged vote. Dave H. laughed and said that if I would pledge a vote for Tim Bridgewater he would give me a ride also.

Finding the South Town Expo wasn't the problem and even though we arrived early, parking spaces were few and far between. Cruising in and around I elected to get behind a somewhat illegally parked car outside of the parking striping at the end of a row on a dead ended drive through spot. Before leaving my vehicle there, two other cars pulled up along side and completely plugged the drive through. Immediately after that four other cars did the same on the row behind.

The scenario inside the Expo Center was much better than last years 3 ring circus I had helped host. There was a 20 foot tower with a tenor soloist singing patriotic songs. Present were three, four, and five piece bands with trombone. free drinks, soda, water, ice-cream cones, lots and lots of literature were being passed out. And there was a huge 40 foot blimp complete with battery propeller and remote control cruising overhead inside of the building.

The 2nd Congressional District had 12 candidates running for the Republican nomination. The Republican Party had previously adopted a new concept called IRV; instant runoff voting. Procedurally if a candidate was to receive 60+ percent of the nominating vote then that candidate would win, becoming the Republican nominee, facing Jim Matheson from the Democrats in November. With instant runoff voting, ballots have 12 positions, number one, or first pick, ranking down to last position. Alphabetically the 12 candidates have a stick on label to transfer and rank the individual delegates selection. After transferring the labels representing the candidates and ranking them first choice to last place the ballots are submitted for counting.

Conceptually what then happens is that a gross count is made (in this case there were approximately 1100 delegates and ballots for the 2nd district). The ballots are then placed in piles of each first choice, first place candidate pick. Each pile is counted looking for a 60 percent of the votes. If no candidate receives 60 percent then the candidate with the least number of votes is then eliminated. The ballots in the eliminated candidate's pile are then redistributed as to the second choice on each those ballots. Recounting the piles looking for the magical 60 percent. If, after any round of voting, a candidate wins a 60% of first preference votes the count is over and that candidate wins. If not, the last-place finisher of each round is eliminated. The eliminated candidates pile of ballots is then redistributed with respect to the next preference. Recounting occurs until there is a round with a candidate receiving 60 percent of the votes, and he or she is declared the winner, or until there are just two candidates left with less than 60 percent who will then face each other in the primary..

Waiting in the auditorium for the vote count quickly became tedious. The concession people had not anticipated the 3000 plus people that showed up for the nominating convention and they were horribly understaffed and under supplied. In other words delegates faced long lines, slow service and of course some mild pocketbook gouging by those present..

Over two hours later the announcement came that the winnowing of the candidates was currently in the fifth round of elimination and the final count probably would take place for another hour. But that was enough for me. I figured the 10 o'clock news would have the juicy details.

Hence came about the race for the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary which is being held today (Tuesday) between Tim Bridgewater and John Swallow.

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