GOP Leaders Stripped of Positions Call Move a 'Black Eye' for Party

GOP Leaders Stripped of Positions Call Move a 'Black Eye' for Party

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Government Specialist Richard Piatt reportingEleven Salt Lake County Republican delegates have been stripped of their positions for publicly supporting a Democrat last fall.

The majority of the county Republican executive committee who voted the delegates out say Republicans should be supporting Republicans in general elections.

Keep in mind that delegates are considered leaders in the Republican Party. So given that, county party officials say they can't tolerate a public endorsement of a Democrat.

The response from the 11 delegates who have been kicked out is: why not?

"I think last night's action just gives the Republican Party another black eye," says Brent Overson, former GOP delegate.

Loyal Republican but now ex-delegate Brent Overson wears a patriotic shirt to make a point: That he can think for himself.

Overson is one of the Salt Lake County Republican delegates removed from that position because his signature appeared in a full page newspaper ad entitled: 'Republicans for Horiuchi' -- an endorsement for Democrat County councilman Randy Horiuchi.

This comes on the heels of what he calls bad press for the party. First, because of a state-sanctioned closed primary, and claims of fraud in the County Clerk's race which ended with Republicans backing away from a demand for a re-count for insufficient evidence.

Overson says it all makes Republicans look bad.

"I think there are some 'kooky' people who have managed to rise to leadership and they seem to be in the middle of the party. But those people don't do anything," Overson says.

Taylorsville mayor Janice Auger says she's saddened by the vote to remove her as a delegate.

A loyal Republican for more than 40 years, Auger says she supports Horiuchi because of what he's done to support the city of Taylorsville.

"I do think it's unfortunate that the party has made an action that makes it look like they don't want people in the party that can think for themselves," Auger says.

John Solomon is the county party's chairman. He defends the 11-to-8 vote to oust the 11 delegates from their position for symbolic reasons.

"I would probably characterize it as more discipline. What we're trying to say is we expect our people in policy-making positions to act in that manner," he says.

Ultimately, all the ex-delegates have to answer to their precinct members, who can re-nominate them again anyway.

But the county Republicans seem more interested in sending a message than anything else, which they have done effectively.

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