Marco Diaz, Republican state delegate and member of the Republican State Central Committee, said the Republican Party will hold their caucus meetings on Thursday, March 15, the same day as the filing deadline. The Democratic Party will hold their caucus meetings on Tuesday, March 13.
Diaz said it has been a “long time” since the two parties did not have their caucus meetings on the same night. The Republican Party had discussed having their meetings on March 13, but decided against it. “We didn’t think it was right,” he said. “Technically you could register after (the Democratic caucus meetings).”
“If we are comfortable in our Party and how it works, lets hold it like we traditionally do (after the deadline),” he said.
Brett Garner, chair of the Davis County Democratic Party, said that for the last 10 years that he has been involved, the caucus meeting has always been held on Tuesday night – something they decided to stick with despite the filing deadline.
Garner said that might actually be a good opportunity for Democrats. He said that if a nominee is not clearly identified in certain districts, the caucus meeting is a good chance for someone to step forward and they would still have time to file. He said some of the districts currently do not have a clearly identified nominee.
Diaz and Garner both agree that the caucus meetings are a good opportunity for the community to get involved, but they don’t necessarily agree on the process.
Garner said Utah has a unique system. Utah is one of only a half dozen states to hold neighborhood caucus meetings to determine delegates to the county convention in order to elect that party’s nominee to run in the general election.
“I’m not opposed to changing it and reforming (the caucus system),” Garner said. “The party itself hasn’t taken a position on any proposed changes, but we don’t have any problem with looking at those changes. They’ve had their advantages in other states, and they’ve had their disadvantages too, and we can study that.”
Diaz said it is important that the average person participates “in the most basic or fundamental grass roots level a person can participate.”
“In Utah, the 4,000 people (in the GOP) who become state delegates will decide who will become the nominee for governor, senator, for the congressman, their attorney general,” he said. “Basically, 4,000 delegates will have the power to determine the nominee of the Party.”
That is a process Diaz agrees with, saying, “We live in a Republic. In a Republic, you choose individuals to represent you. Just like we choose 435 members of Congress to write laws that impact our lives and livelihood. Just like we elect delegates to decide, after doing all their due diligence, doing their homework, to be able to vote and represent their precinct.”
In both parties, everyone is welcome to attend and participate. However, in the Republican Party, those involved must be registered to vote as a Republican. The Democratic Party does not have that requirement.
“We don’t require people to affiliate as a Democrat to come …” Garner said. “That’s the only way we are going to see real change is if people see there is an alternative out there.”
Garner said the Democratic Party wants voters to participate after seeing a huge drop in voter participation. In the 1980s, Utah was ranked in the top 10 states for voter turnout. In 2010, they were in the bottom 10.
“I think (voters) feel like they don’t have any influence because they’ve bought into this idea that the Republican Party is the only party that can have influence in Utah,” he said. “We welcome people to join the Democratic Party to make a different statement. These (Democratic nominees) aren’t liberal extremists. Pete Ashdown started one of Utah’s most important small businesses, and he has kept that business strong for over 20 years now. He thrives in the environment in Utah, but he thinks that we need a change in terms of the U.S. Senate.”
Diaz said he encourages anyone and everyone to attend to make a difference.
“I would encourage anyone who does not like, or does not feel like they are not fully represented, or their views are not fully represented by their current officials to engage in the process,” he said. “If you’re not involved, you really can’t complain about a process you chose not to get involved in. Come out … and let your voice be heard.”
For information on the Democratic caucus meetings, including times and locations, visit www.davisdems.org. For information on the Republican caucus meetings, including times and locations, visit www.utgop.org/davis. The Republican Party has previously held their Davis County caucus meetings at Bountiful High. That location may be changed.