Utah GOP chair says he won't seek another term

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, talks to Derek Brown, Utah Republican Party chairman, at a Republican election night event at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News, File)



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SALT LAKE CITY — The chairman of Utah Republican Party announced Tuesday he won't seek another two-year term at the position, citing a need to spend more time with his family.

Derek Brown was tabbed to lead the chapter in 2019, replacing Rob Anderson, who also declined to serve a second term. In an open letter to members posted on the party's website, Brown said the decision was made after weeks of thought along with his wife.

"We have some critical life events just around the corner, and a little family that needs a dad with one full-time job — not two," he wrote, in part. "After much soul searching, we simply can't escape the feeling that it is time to pass the baton. Party leadership service, after all, is no different from public service. It is designed to be seasonal. You commit to serving 100% for a short season, wear yourself out in the process and then pass the heavy baton to another who likewise feels that 'subtle nudge' to serve."

A successor will be elected at the party's statewide convention scheduled for May.

Utah Rep. Burgess Owens and Utah Senate President Stuart Adams were among individuals who reacted to Brown's announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

"Thank you, Derek Brown, for your years of service and sacrifice," Adams tweeted. "As the (Utah GOP Chair) you led the party during unprecedented times & helped win elections across the state. I appreciate your friendship, leadership & wish you luck in your next endeavor."

The Utah GOP also tweeted that Brown was "the right person, at the right time, for the right reasons."

He served as a state lawmaker representing a district in southern Salt Lake County for a stint prior to becoming the party chair in 2019. Brown also worked as a managing partner of Utah Policy Advocates, an adjunct professor in BYU's School of Communications and deputy chief of staff for Sen. Mike Lee.

Brown received 62% of the vote during the 2019 party convention. Then-Gov. Gary Herbert called Brown's victory a "new beginning" for the party that was divided over the controversial SB54 election campaigning law.

In his letter Tuesday, Brown wrote that he was "humbled" by party members who had encouraged him to seek a second term. He used the letter to boast about several items from his tenure at the helm of the party. Those included lifting the party "out of crushing debt" and raising over $1 million, as well as helping Owens win Congressional District 4 which was held by Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams at the time Brown was elected.

"It is my sincere hope that, in some small measure, I likewise have not simply marked time, but also made a difference," Brown added. "Thank you for the honor of a lifetime that it has been to serve as your chair."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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