POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah GOP chief says most delegates at convention were civil

Apr 29, 2024, 3:47 PM

An attendee jeers Utah's 1st Congressional District candidate Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, during the ...

An attendee jeers Utah's 1st Congressional District candidate Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, during the Utah Republican Party convention at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 27, 2024. In hindsight, the Utah GOP chair says he didn't see bad behavior reported by others, who said delegates were rowdy, raucous, and in some cases, threatening. (Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It was a long and, by some accounts, a raucous day at the Utah GOP nominating convention on Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake.

And some delegates were disappointed by the reported behavior of other GOP delegates at the Utah convention. Utah Lt. Governor, Deidre Henderson, said as much in a post on X that night.

 

Holly Richardson is an editor for the news aggregator website Utah Policy. She also writes for the Deseret News. She told KSL NewsRadio the situation with the lieutenant governor eventually required a police presence.

“I have taken my kids (to conventions),” Richardson said. “But the anger and the animosity and I think just flat-out contempt that has shown itself was really disturbing. So not only did the lieutenant governor’s family have a very unfortunate incident, there were fists thrown.”

Axson: from my vantage point delegates at the Utah GOP convention were respectful

But the head of the Utah Republican party told KSL NewsRadio that, for the most part, people were positive and respectful.

“I think by and large, most people there participated in positive ways,” said Utah GOP Chair Robert Axson, “and participated in respectful conversations, in spite of differences of opinions.”

Axson said that if other people were acting out, he didn’t see it. He said he doesn’t condone it, and that there’s no space for that type of behavior.

 

“We don’t need to devolve into name calling or anything else, so if and where that occurred at the convention I didn’t see it — with the exceptions of some passions here and there. I didn’t see it from the stage, but if in other conversations that occurred, I certainly would not condone it,” Axson said.

Others reported feeling threatened when they asked delegates to sit down, so they could see Gov. Spencer Cox as he spoke to the crowd.

“When Governor Cox entered the stage,” a KSL NewsRadio caller said, “and they began to shout him down, I asked the couple who stood up … to sit down, so that I might listen… I felt physically threatened.”

Unexpected wins

There were a few somewhat unexpected victories on Saturday. Cox and two members of Utah’s federal congressional delegation will have primary challengers. 

Cox will meet Rep. Phil Lyman, the delegate choice to run for Utah governor.

Paul Miller beat Utah’s 1st Congressional District Rep. Blake Moore at convention. However, Moore got enough delegate support to qualify for the primary. 

Second Congressional District Representative Celeste Maloy was bested by Colby Jenkins. But she too received enough votes to qualify for the primary.

“What I sensed is that a number of delegates feeling, like, ‘some of these other candidates, they’re already on the primary ballot, and so I’m going to support somebody else so that there can be a continuation of options,” Axson said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Utah GOP chief says most delegates at convention were civil