Summit County’s incumbent GOP state legislators win nominations |

Summit County’s incumbent GOP state legislators win nominations

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record

Tal Adair, Summit County Republican Party Chair, left, and Rep. Mel Brown (R - Coalville) at the state Republican Party Convention on Saturday at South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. Brown won the GOP nomination for Utah's 53rd House District, with 63% of the delegate vote. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)

Three incumbent Republican state legislators whose districts include portions of Summit County won the party’s nominations on Saturday at the state Republican Party convention in Sandy.

Congressman Rob Bishop, meanwhile, roundly defeated his opponent, David Yu-Lin Chiu, for the GOP nod in the 1st Congressional District with over 80 percent of the delegate vote.

Utah 26th Dist. Sen. Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal), 53rd Dist. Rep. Melvin Brown (R-Coalville) and 54th Dist. Rep. Kraig Powell all won their nominations Saturday as well.

Speakers included the state’s two Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, as well as Gov. Gary Herbert, Attorney General Sean Reyes and Rebecca Lockhart, speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.

Common themes included limiting the role of the federal government in the affairs of Utah, promoting economic growth through the private sector, transferring control of federal lands in the state to Utah and defending traditional marriage.

Herbert described Utah as the "brightest star on the American flag," citing the state’s 4.1 unemployment rate, 2.6 points below the national figure, and its welcoming environment for businesses. The state’s corporate tax rate has not been raised in 15 years, he said.

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"We believe in keeping government off your backs and out of your wallet," Herbert said. "Our job growth is second best in the U.S. The Utah model is the Founding Fathers’ model as envisioned in the Constitution."

Before delegates in the 1st Congressional District voted, Bishop gave an emphatic speech to a very receptive audience.

"My goal is to let you know that I still support the same thing that I did when I was first elected – I want to be able to say that I did less to control your life than I did when I first went to Congress," Bishop said.

Bishop added that Utah is a "public lands state" and he wants to make sure that Utah has control over how those lands are used. He also pressed the importance of maintaining strong military funding, citing his own work to make Hill Air Force Base more secure.

"I will also use my position on the [House] Armed Services Committee to push back against the anti-military budget that this administration has put forward and that has put this country at risk," Bishop said.

Republican delegates also approved three non-binding resolutions at the convention: (1) defending the party’s constitutional right of association, (2) supporting Western states taking back public lands and (3) promoting partisan school board elections.

The first resolution was proposed in response to the State Legislature’s recent passage of SB54, also known as the Count My Vote "compromise bill" which will require political parties to allow candidates to obtain signatures to get on a primary ballot as opposed to going through the caucus and convention process. It affirms the Utah GOP’s right to "determine how [its] party selects its nominees."

The public lands resolution calls upon the federal government to honor the statehood promises made to transfer title of public lands back to states east of Colorado. It also asks state and national representatives to "exert their utmost power and influence" to spur the "imminent transfer" of these lands.

Summit County Republican Party Chair Tal Adair said he is in favor of this resolution.

"We can run our state better than anybody. We have a lot of public lands owned by the federal government that we could use to help our tax base," Adair said. "We are good stewards of the land – we understand it, we understand natural resources and manage them well."

The partisan school board resolution, however, Adair was uncertain about. He said more research needs to be done on the issue but spoke in favor of how school board elections work now.

Convention results:

1st Congressional District Rob Bishop (incumbent) – 81 percent David Yu-Lin Chiu – 19 percent

Utah Senate District 26 Kevin Van Tassell (incumbent) – 70 percent Susan Hacking Horrocks – 30 percent

Utah House of Representatives District 53 Melvin Brown (incumbent) – 63 percent Blaine Hone – 27 percent John Zimmerman – 10 percent

Utah House of Representatives District 54 Kraig Powell (incumbent) – 67 percent Wylder Smith – 32 percent

November match-ups:

1st Congressional District Rob Bishop (R-incumbent) Donna McAleer (D) Dwayne Vance (Independent American) Craig Bowden (Libertarian)

Utah Senate District 26 Kevin Van Tassell (R-incumbent) Wayne Stevens (D)

Utah House District 53 Melvin Brown (R-incumbent) Ray Worthen (D)

Utah House District 54 Kraig Powell (R-incumbent) Glenn Wright (D)