May 8th, 2010
01:13 PM ET
13 years ago

Utah Republicans gather to talk politics

Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN) - It is part political town hall and part social gathering. And in order to take part, thousands of Utah Republicans trekked from across the state to participate in their party convention on Saturday.

In one of the country's more unusual systems, a candidate running for state-wide office in Utah must garner at least 60 percent of the delegates' votes if they are facing a challenger. If a candidate doesn't meet that threshold, then the top two vote getters will face off in a primary next month.

So the 3500 delegates and others interested in observing the activities gathered this morning to hear candidates for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and Governor give one last pitch as they try to woo enough support.

All of the candidates had booths set up in a section of the exhibition hall and were taking questions from delegates who could pick up a t-shirt or a goody bag at the same time.

Incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett, who runs the real risk of not getting enough support to survive, stood in the middle of a group of delegates and defended everything from his political contributions, to his decision not to stand by his original promise to only serve two terms, to his use of earmarks.

Another issue that has drawn the ire of some delegates is Bennett's vote in favor for the nomination of an Obama Administration regulatory official.

"It has gotten me in political hot water with these delegates," Bennett said of the vote.

Besides those seeking office, other parties try to influence the outcome. The Club for Growth, the anti-tax Washington-based organization, set up a booth here and have been handing out literature criticizing Bennett for his vote to authorize the controversial financial bailout.

Since the race for the Senate has been ferocious at times, state party chairman Dave Hansen pleaded with delegates not to boo candidates as they speak before the convention. Joking that he wanted to help them get the booing desire out of the way, pictures were shown of Democrats House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama - all of whom drove loud boos. "Everyone has it out of your system," Hansen said.

A solid majority of the delegates are first-time attendees. While the caucus system of choosing delegates and the resulting convention have drawn criticism, state party officials counter this is the best way.

"I have defended it and will are the best educated, best informed delegates who understand the issues," Hansen told the convention.

State Democrats are also meeting at the same time today for their convention to determine their candidates - in a separate part of the same building.

Filed under: 2010 • Bob Bennett • Utah
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Dump all the useless republicans who are sitting in the senate and not doing anything to earn their pay. I'm sorry, they are doing everything to earn their pay from wall street, big oil, and the health care industry. They are a disgrace to society.

    May 8, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. one voice

    These Corporate hacks have to get together so they make sure they keep their lies straight. The evil,evil GOP.

    May 8, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. JonDie

    Few people, even people knowledgeable about politics, could name anything of note ever done by any politician from the state of Utah. The Utah GOP convention is not news.

    May 8, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. sam

    As a dem,I have to say I ALMOST feel sorry for Mr.Benn

    May 8, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. SensibleDem2

    Hey,you bunch,of repugs&tea-mobs, you don't have to have a write up to talk politics,because thats all you talk about anyhow,along with your, mad,dog,mad,mentally immature acting ways.

    May 8, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. I won't vote for him again

    I hope there is a Ron Paul republican in this horse race

    May 8, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |