John Curtis was declared the winner of the 3rd District Republican primary just two hours after the first wave of ballots were counted on Tuesday night.
But the Provo mayor wasn’t the only one celebrating.
“Tuesday’s election results were gratifying from the standpoint that voters in the 3rd District had a choice,” said Rich McKeown, co-chair of the Count My Vote initiative, which advocates for a more open candidate selection process.
Curtis was one of two candidates who gathered signatures to get on the ballot, and he didn’t have to depend on the approval of delegates at Utah GOP’s caucus convention in June. In fact, he came in fifth.
McKeown and other backers of Count My Vote are now considering rekindling their efforts, though he says it’s too early to say whether they may launch another ballot measure next year.
“We have certainly had discussions about next steps,” he said. “They could include reengaging the initiative, it could include other things. We have not made final decisions about when or what to do as a consequence of this election or the status of S.B. 54.”
S.B. 54 was the compromise law that preserved the caucus system while giving an alternative path to other candidates via petition. The Utah GOP has been in litigation over the law for years and it’s unclear whether the legislature will seek to amend or even repeal the law, as some lawmakers attempted to do last session.
Rob Anderson, Utah GOP’s new chairman, has had some discussions with organizers of Count My Vote, including former Gov. Mike Leavitt. He says they’ll have to seriously consider their options if the measure advances.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t have an open discussion, but I’m not surprised by this move,” he says. “We have our work cut out for us going forward.”
Anderson says the Utah Republican Party and Count My Vote ultimately have the same goal: to get the best people elected into office.