So I was a delegate to the Utah Republican State Convention on Saturday. It was a surreal experience, and, ultimately, a positive one.
Two years ago, I found myself on the outside looking in as the Tea Party swept into power and replaced a respected U.S. Senator with Mike Lee, a lunatic who wants to repeal the constitutional amendment that made slaves citizens and completely abolish Social Security.
Orrin Hatch watched that happen and spent two years pretending to be the king of the Tea Party, abandoning any pretense of reasonableness and voting in lockstep with Lee. At the same time, he hired the entire corrupt political apparatus that swept Lee into power and groveled to every right wing loonbat who came calling. He especially sucked up to David Kirkham, the dippy head of the Utah Tea Party who was instrumental in Lee’s victory two years previous.
What a difference two years makes.
The Tea Party was stymied at every turn on Saturday. Kirkham’s status as kingmaker was destroyed by his ineffectual attempt to unseat the sitting governor. Hatch was forced into a primary, yes, but just barely, and by Dan Lilljenquist, who is a bright, practical legislator and not a wacky ideologue. Ironically, Hatch’s two year attempt to mutate his political persona may not have helped him much, as his support came from a massive backlash to the Tea Party coup that took place in the last election cycle. Tea Party darlings Morgan Philpot, Carl Wimmer, and a host of other miscreants watched their political ambitions go up in smoke.
Especially encouraging was the success of Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who will now be the Republican candidate for Utah’s fourth congressional seat. Mark Shurtleff, Utah’s Attorney General who has repeatedly solicited large political contributions from people who are under investigation from his office, championed his candidate, Carl Wimmer, by dismissing Mia Love as a “novelty,” presumably because she’s African American, female, and Mormon. Newsflash, Mr. Shurtleff – she’s also brilliant, and she stands head and shoulders above the tired hack you were backing. Oh, and you’re kind of a racist besides. (Shurtleff has since apologized.)
So, once again, in Utah it is acceptable to be both reasonable and Republican.
All in all, Saturday was a good day.