With the help of a voting app and Facebook Live, the first virtual GOP Cache County nominating convention was conducted over a three-day span, ending Saturday night with results sending two county races to a primary election.
If a single candidate in either race received 70% of the delegate vote, they would be selected as the party’s nominee, eliminating the need for a primary election on June 30.
In the race for Utah House of Representatives 3rd District, Val Potter received 60.3% of the delegate votes and Mike Petersen received 39.7%. Neither reached the 70% threshold.
Devron Andersen came away with 72.8% of the votes, making him the Republican nominee for County Recorder over Garrett Mansell, with 27.2%.
In the race for Jon White’s Cache County Council south district seat, Marc Ensign, with 42 delegate votes, and Nolan Gunnell, with 22 delegate votes, are both advancing to the primaries.
Karl Ward, Barbara Tidwell and David Erickson ran unopposed for their County Council seats. Kathleen Howell ran unopposed for county assessor; 13 delegates voted against her, but not enough to sway the outcome. The race for county treasurer also went to the incumbent, Craig McAllister, with only five “no” votes.
“Overall, it was a good experience,” said Chris Booth about the virtual convention process. “We had around the same number of delegates get credentialed and vote as previous years with in-person conventions, so we consider that a success.”
Booth made opening remarks over Facebook Live, previewed each round of voting and announced results, which were gathered via a voting app known as Voatz.
With many checks and balances, Booth said this new format is a “secure and slick system” and elements may be used in future conventions as well.
“We are always looking for ways to increase participation, and this may be the avenue,” Booth said.
The other contested race is State Senate District 25. Candidates Chris Wilson and 40-year incumbent Lyle Hillyard will be included in the state GOP convention later this week because District 25 involves both Rich and Cache counties.
“I don’t have any feel for the race one way or the other,” Booth said about the District 25 race. “It is up for grabs and we will see.”
Booth said that the Hillyard’s 40 years of experience with education, taxes and the political landscape in the legislature is a big draw for some people and others are looking for a new face.
“I think the incumbents kind of shudder when I say this, but I always appreciate it when they get a challenger because iron sharpens iron,” Booth said. “Competition makes them sharpen their pencils and make sure they are on top of their game and makes them a better candidate — and in the end, makes them a better elected official.”
The state convention will also be conducted similarly to last week’s Cache County convention, meaning that rather than having convention speeches, voting and ballot counting in one evening, the proceedings will take place online Thursday through Saturday this week.
Cache County Democrats canceled their annual convention outright since all of their candidates for county offices are running unopposed. And in place of holding elections for delegates and precinct officers, they have asked previous designees to continue their service until the next convention.
The GOP primary elections will be conducted through the mail-in voting structure. To register to vote or to find deadlines visit www.cachecounty.org/elections.