Yesterday, the Utah County Republican Party Constitution and Bylaws Committee hosted a Delegate Allocation Panel discussion to address the often thorny topic of ex officio (“automatic”) delegates. About 35 people attended. The goal was to educate attendees by presenting both sides of the argument, for/against having ex officio delegates in the Utah County Republican Party. Below are summary minutes from the meeting:
Delegate allocation panel discussion 9/20/11
Against having ex officio delegates – Lisa Shepherd, Dave Duncan
For having ex officio delegates – Don Garlitz, Wendi Baggaly, Mike Terry
CON – opening statements:
- Video – Tim Bridgewater speaking against the practice of ex officio delegates – transparency, should be neighbors representing neighbors, party leaders should be able to get support and be elected in precincts.
- Letter from Jason Chaffetz, Howard Stephenson, Tom Hatch, and Tim Brigewater, supporting the removal of the “automatic and appointed delegate” from the Utah republican Party system.
- Dave – Is the practice allowed, and if so is it a good idea? If it was a good idea, would it be allowed by the rules as they currently stand?
- Lisa – It’s not just a vocal minority speaking out; in 2006 vote sustaining the practice failed @ state convention.
PRO – opening statements:
- Mike Terry – Auto delegates are not “unelected”; elected either by grass roots or by others elected by the grassroots. Rules clearly allow ex officios. Prior to having auto dels things not working well; lacking unity.
- Don Garlitz – A faction of people argue the state party const doesn’t allow the practice. More than one way of interpreting laws and rules and knowing what they mean. Reps don’t have to be elected by the most grass roots body to be a rep. Founding fathers didn’t think it was a bad idea to have representatives electing representatives.
1) What does the state Party constitution say about ex officio delegates?
PRO – Wendi – “It’s easy to see the same thing in 2 different lights.” Quoted State Party Const Article XII; says it means ‘distributed fairly’ through Relative Republican Strength. Thinks county can make a formula for distributing not at the precinct level.
Pro – Dave – Robert’s Rules of Order, 571, interpretive principles of bylaws – express mention of one is exclusion of others. It’s the only allocation mentioned, excluding any others. Underfill of delegates can be filled per section XII.
Lisa – “The specific outweighs general, and it’s very specific.” Appointed people are not elected. Weber Co got rid of autos; they were against getting rid of it but are glad they did; feel they have more participation.
Rebuttal – Mike – RONR only for meetings, not general; Weber and Wa are the only 2 counties w/out auto dels.
2) State the other side’s position w/out using the words ‘but’, ‘however’, or ‘on the other hand’:
Lisa – We should reward volunteers w/delegate seat; no time to sit in caucus. “I deserve it; I work hard; this is my pay”. Elected officials crucial part of the Party; grassroots people not as smart.
Don Garlitz – Our state party docs prohibit the practice. Even if it were allowed we shouldn’t do it; should be elected at the precinct level.
3) Does the ex officio delegate degrade grass roots organization and if so, how?
- Dave – yes; the whole purpose of a delegate is precinct representation. Fosters grass roots nature by representing neighbors to candidates, and candidates communicating w/delegates. Shouldn’t take the voice from them.
- Lisa – a GOP principle is local control; how much more local can you get than in your precinct? Must live in precinct and be registered GOP to vote in precinct, why turn that privilege over to another body — when general voter (GOP, unaffil, Dems) votes for elected officials they are also voting for a delegate.
- Don – Thinks Chaffetz and Bridgewater are wrong on this issue; it doesn’t degrade party. It didn’t offend founding fathers when they arranged for senators to be elected by state legislatures.
- Wendi – we’re somewhere in the middle of Party Bosses and direct primary – in a just right type spot. Delegates hold candidates accountable. Why is it bad to have 10% of the delegates be those who have been in the party “for a very long time and have a lot of experience”? They can weed out candidates/delegates who “really are just spouting nonsense”.
- Lisa – elected officials don’t want to offend colleagues and constituents so sometimes they don’t vote on delegate issues. The one vote phenomenon – whether or not a race goes to a primary is decided by 1 vote and happens often; candidates (who are delegates) running a campaign can’t vet other candidates as well as precinct delegate.
4) We all have the same goal – to advance party platform. How do ex officios help or hinder advancing that goal?
- Wendi – SLC didn’t allow precinct chairs to auto serve as delegates when she lived there; people wouldn’t run for positions w/out delegate spots. It is human nature that we want to be involved and that we want to have a vote in decisions. “It’s not necessarily a reward; it’s that we want to have our voice heard.” Possibility of alienating officials if they don’t get to have a voice in the principles and the people who will carry the banner of our party.
- Lisa – Bylaw 2 – precinct chairs not technically ex officios. Elected officials are so important that they have the ability to get elected in their caucus, whether working the caucus or not. Local control. 81 voices silenced from precincts in our county – what about those who ran for delegate and lost? They could maybe have had another delegate spot. “I’d like to ask them, would they agree with our practice?”
- Dave – SLC demographics diff than us; dropping population, more Democratic than here. Volunteers should want to work for the love of the principles and Party.
- Mike – In caucus, outlines what the PC must do to be a delegate (attend, work etc). Many delegates run only to elect a candidate at nominating convention, then skip organizing convention.
5) Describe the underlying principles that drive your position?
- Dave – everyone is protected by the rules in place; respects rule of law; “if they’re bad rules we ought to fix them but we never should just ignore them.” What’s good for the party and will help us accomplish our principles? Need people committed to the principles, not the power. 9.5% county, 12.5% state autos does not include PC/VC.
- Lisa – “What allows the most people to be involved?” wants to allow many to be involved; nothing precludes from holding as many offices as wanted. At last State Convention one delegate spot was reallocated through 3 people and ended up w/2 people taking the same spot. Constant fluid method, reallocation; not easy method. “We have to be super careful; these are peoples’ voting rights we’re talking about.”
- Don – 1) strong/effective leadership at all levels; need incentives in precinct or good leaders wouldn’t serve in precinct but would go for “higher” position w/auto del; 2) keeps elected officials close to party and vice versa; 3) can’t ignore drive to work for a reward – best incentive to stay engaged.
- Mike- Leg District officers can’t be in caucuses to get elected. “There’s physically no way they cant’ go to their own caucuses and be elected as a delegate.”
- Wendi – 2 people ran dist 58 caucus @ 3 schools; no one would help because they want to be elected themselves. Because she was fulfilling her role as LD officer, she didn’t have to worry about herself but could instead serve the others. It may work in one district but not in all; needs to be practical for all districts.
- Lisa – offered to train how it can be accomplished, to run a caucus and be in your caucus to get elected.
6) Are all current delegates that are not elected at caucus – are they all the same, or can we do away with some slots but keep others?
- Mike – C&B Committee will have varying degrees for vote by the CC; CC will be taking a poll about it. How many/who do you want to be ex officios?
- Don – some delegates currently aren’t elected, such as LD committee members. There is some “wiggle room” there, but it would make it hard to get help w/out the delegate spot incentive.
- Wendi – committee members are county delegates. 5 appointed SC members are the only state delegates not elected but they are ratified.
- Lisa – respects the voice of the majority; respects decision made by governing body. Past party leaders? No. Appointed officers? ratification is not election. Elected officials – get elected in precinct. Party Volunteer officer can help find people to help.
- Dave – state constitution allows replacements of delegate; it’s whether or not you follow the process. Being elected to one thing doesn’t automatically mean you should be elected to something else on the side.
- Lisa – 9 instances we have violated Precinct Chair-only appointments of replacements.
- Don – Language doesn’t say they have to be elected @ precinct.
Surprise question –
CON TEAM – How would you explain to a party volunteer who’s worked hard why they don’t deserve a delegate spot?
- Lisa – worked full time as Party Secretary – “I was not the party sec to get a del position; i can go in m precinct and ask them.” Important to support organization; up to precinct to elect delegates. If you work so hard, they will probably agree you should be one.
- Dave – Constitution says there’s a way to become a delegate and it’s not by working; work and volunteering is good but that’s it’s not how it works. Would have relinquished his own delegate slot if it went back to precinct, but it goes to appointed LD committee member.
PRO TEAM – How would you convince a precinct they are better off w/out a delegate slot lost to ex officios?
- Don – probability of reallocating back to precinct is about 1 in 3 to get one of the ex officio slots back in your precinct. “The current practice is not terribly out of balance as it is.”
- Wendi – Delegate spots are based on Relative Republican Strength, so if you want more, work to get more people involved and voting. That’s what will get you more del spots and increase your voice. Should change the county const that allows Leg Dist Chair to appoint replacements for precinct delegates – shouldn’t be allowed.
- Lisa – PR20 got 2 more dels w/ ex officios living in their precinct, but those spots were taken from other precincts. Better to keep those voices were RRS is highest.
- Dave – Some precincts have twice as many delegates as they should due to autos. State Constitution says – any part of county docs in conflict w/state law or party const are null and void (article VII).
- Don – Current practices are legitimate, consistent w/party docs, and effective. Utah County’s delegation at capitol is considered most conservative as result of our system. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Reps choosing other reps is reasonable and legitimate and “I think we ought to continue w/the practices the way we have them today.”
- Wendi – 2006 convention; I was there. Not a lot of education on pro side, but a lot of negative rhetoric on the other side. When people are confused or uneducated, they tend to vote no; the vote didn’t mean they were against ex officios but that they were confused. “It’s a good practice; we need to continue it.”
- Mike – SCC standing rule #1 says ex o’s not against const.
- Lisa – Caucus attendees should have direct representation from delegates they elect.
- Dave – we’re taking away delegates from precincts that deserve them. “The system is broke; we need to fix it.” How many issues are decided by a margin of 10% or less? What about when that 10% is concentrated in a few districts? Some have up to 30% additional allocation. Significant numbers. We have a constitution, we should follow it – article XII, VII, X – outlines how to change const – standing rule is not one of the ways to change the const.