Tea Party in Summit County gains steam
After Utah Republicans ousted Sen. Bob Bennett at their state convention Saturday, the organizer of a 912 project in Summit County took aim at Bennett and state GOP Rep. Mel Brown for not being conservative enough.
North Summit resident Jacqueline Smith founded the STAR Forum. The STAR acronym stands for "Save the American Republic," Smith explained.
"It was my 912 project. Glenn Beck asked people to do something that would help their communities, so this was mine," Smith said.
She added, "912 is nine principles and 12 values that will bring Americans back together the way they felt the day after 9/11."
"On 912 we rallied as Americans. There was no rift," Smith said.
The STAR Forum formed about a year ago.
"We started it up around the time the Tea Party started going," Smith said.
As a state Republican delegate, Smith voted against Bennett at Saturday’s convention. Bennett lost her support by voting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
"I looked up every Republican that voted for TARP and I decided that they were going to get voted out the next time they were up for election," Smith said. "That was such a big mistake to me."
Delegates rejected Bennett on Saturday. Republicans voted to put businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee in a primary contest in June.
"It’s not an anti-incumbent thing for me," Smith said about the ousting of Bennett. "We need to have the Republican Party truly represented by conservative Republicans again. If we find a Republican who isn’t doing their job the way we believe they should be, wouldn’t it be our responsibility to clean our own house first?"
Smith also criticized Bennett for pushing a bipartisan bill to require people to purchase health insurance.
"I think that he had good intentions, but any time you force a purchase upon the American people, it’s unconstitutional," Smith said.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, faces a stiff challenge in District 53 from a Wanship Republican who claims he is more conservative than the veteran lawmaker. Brown and newcomer Jon Hellander will face off for the GOP nomination in a primary election June 22. District 53 includes most of Summit County.
Smith supports Hellander.
"It’s important to know that the STAR Forum did not go into this trying to recruit people to be delegates for the Jon Hellander-Mel Brown race," Smith said. "We believe there are a lot of Republicans who probably live a very conservative life, but don’t always vote conservatively. Like Bob Bennett and like Mel Brown, we feel that these Republicans haven’t always voted on conservative, constitutional basis."
Mailer makes waves in District 53
Smith sent a letter to delegates in the District 53 race that made waves last week. A copy of the mailer was obtained by The Park Record.
"It was paid for by myself. Jon Hellander did not even know that the letter had went out," Smith said. "I followed all the campaign rules as far as making sure that it was clear on the letter that it was not authorized by his campaign."
The letter blames Brown for supporting several tax increases while in the Legislature.
"One of the people’s quotes had information about Mel’s voting record. Nothing was unsubstantiated and there were no attacks on character," Smith said.
But Summit County Republican Party Chairman Henry Glasheen wrongly assumed that Hellander had something to do with the mailer, Smith said. Glasheen said he is supporting Brown in the contest.
"[Glasheen] assumed [Hellander] was aware of the letter and accused Jon of violating some fair practice act," Smith said. "It is not unfair for anyone to state someone’s voting record."
Brown’s character was not attacked, she stressed.
"And I don’t think Jon’s character has been attacked by Mel. However, Jon’s character was attacked by [Glasheen,]" Smith said.
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