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Republican Delegates Prepare to Pick Candidates

Republican Delegates Prepare to Pick Candidates

Posted - May 6, 2004 at 5:45 p.m.



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Richard Piatt Reporting3500 Republican delegates have a very important job Saturday. They will be picking the candidates for Governor and Congress who will be on the ballot this fall. But HOW will that decision be made, and who are these delegates anyway?!

Any delegate will tell you it's going to be a tough and tense round of voting Saturday, especially in the Governor's race, where eight candidates will become two, or one if there is 60 percent support for one.

Republicans will be using ballots and a method called Instant Runoff Voting, or Preferential Balloting. Party executive director Chris Bleak explains how it works, using baseball players as candidates:

Chris Bleak, Exec. Dir., Utah Republican Party: “They will peel off the sticker from there and place that person in their preference. So, for example, placing Willie Mays in the first spot. And then they’ll go through the process of placing everyone else.”

Ballots are counted several times. Candidates with the least support among all delegates are eliminated on each round of voting. Ballots where a rejected candidate was picked number one-- would be eliminated, and the next candidate -- number two. -- moves up. The process is repeated, until the winners emerge.

Probably just as important as how the delegates choose their favorite candidate is who is doing the choosing. There are 3,500 delegates statewide, mostly a very conservative group, made up mostly of men.

In fact, a Dan Jones survey performed for The Exoro Public Relations Group shows 71 percent of the delegates are men. That’s significant when it comes to picking candidates because....

Maura Carabello/Exoro Communications: “That doesn’t reflect the population. We are not 71 percent men.”

78 percent of the delegates ranked themselves very conservative: A seven or above on a scale of 1-to-10 where 10 is most conservative.

Special interests also play into the process, as does the fact the nearly have are first-time delegates.

Maura Carabello, Exoro Communications: "It's interesting. You see today, the head to head polling of delegates is slightly different than the head to head polling of the general public."

But that makes it no easier to pick who will still be a candidate next week -- the biggest question in Utah politics right now.

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