Caucus night was a stark reminder of the price you pay for being a moderate Republican in Utah


(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) A Trump baseball hat sits on a desk during the presidential primary caucuses at Riverton High School in Riverton on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

On Republican caucus night (March 5), I was nominated to serve as a state delegate in my precinct. I had been elected two years earlier to the same position and also served as precinct vice chairman.

Since I had experience with the vetting of candidates and had enjoyed speaking with my precinct neighbors about the candidates for office — including those running for Congress and the Senate — I decided to accept the nomination. There was a lively discussion about the role and obligation of delegates; everyone agreed that our primary responsibility is to represent those within our precinct.

We would knock on doors and listen to our neighbors. What issues were important to them? Who would they prefer I vote for at the Republican convention? While I had my personal preferences, I was obligated to reflect the will of my constituents; that obligation is the hallmark of representative government.

Eight of my precinct neighbors were also nominated to serve as state delegates (to fill three positions), so we stood in a line at the front of the room and took turns explaining — in one minute speeches — why we deserved to be elected.

Someone suggested that we should also declare, during our speeches, who we supported as the presidential nominee. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to wait until I had spoken with my neighbors, because my personal preferences for any future office holder are not more important thanthose l vowed to represent. I was pressured to say his name and commit to him. I tried to remind those in the room about that representative government thing, but I was overruled. “Tell us!”

I should have stuck to my guns. I should have refused to declare my choice, or lied. “It doesn’t matter who I prefer,” I said, “because the nominee is obvious.” And then, in a moment of unexpected honesty, I committed delegate suicide by blurting out, “I despise Donald Trump.”

Caucus night was a stark reminder of the price you pay for being a moderate Republican in Utah. I won’t be attending this year’s convention.

Mike Dunn, Draper

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