URVC Survey Results: Lobbyists Need Not Apply
Analysis posted below the article is the opinion of Chadwick H. Fairbanks III.
As the Chairman of the Utah Republican Veterans Caucus (URVC), I have the privilege of serving on the Utah Republican Party (URP) State Executive Committee (SEC) as well as the URP State Central Committee (SCC). As I’ve been on the front lines of UTGOP politics for the last year, I’ve witnessed some unsettling trends in Party governance, participation, and civility. Most notably, the UTGOP has received virtually no donations and lost a major US Congressional race in 2018. With the upcoming 2019 Organizing Convention, I was concerned about several things including the future direction and viability of the Party. On 29 MAR 2019, I commissioned a survey and sent it to the entire list of UTGOP state delegates to ask their thoughts about the Party. The answers were thoughtful and insightful. As of 18 APR 2019, I’ve received 2,835 individual essay answers. However, the most interesting information is regarding lobbyists which is detailed graphically below.
At the time of this survey, Derek Brown and Phill Wright had declared candidacy to run for the position of URP State Party Chair. However, both men have an incredible amount of political baggage and conflicts of interest which make them less than ideal candidates. Derek Brown is a paid lobbyist running his own firm - Utah Policy Advocates. Phill Wright (effectually a lobbyist) is the executive director of Keep My Voice (KMV) - a conservative political issues committee (PIC). KMV has been heavily involved in the SB54 lawsuit against the State of Utah as well as counter-balancing its political arch nemesis - Count My Vote (CMV). CMV is also a PIC mostly supported by moderate and establishment Republicans as well as some Democrats. Most of the Party in-fighting, which has been vitriolic, has revolved around the SB54 legislation which created a signature-based bypass of the URP’s Nominating Convention process to allow well-financed candidates the opportunity to essentially buy their position on a primary ballot without the permission or vetting from URP state delegates. Needless to say, neither the KMV nor the CMV factions of the Party were willing to compromise which has resulted in badly damaged inter-Party relations between officers, delegates, candidates, donors, and voters.
Derek Brown was formerly a Utah House Representative who is now a paid lobbyist. Lobbyists work with both Democrats and Republicans and often give money to both sides to make sure their clients’ needs are met before the general public’s. It’s a major conflict of interest for someone who gets paid to finance Democrats when needed to be the leader of the Utah Republican Party. Even though past State Party Chairs like Stan Lockhart and Spencer Stokes were also lobbyists, it doesn’t make it right nor a good idea both then and now, especially given the opinions of the state delegates regarding lobbyists and special interests. Furthermore, Derek Brown was on Governor Herbert’s short list for State Party Chair in 2017 along with Rob Anderson. Rob was tapped by the Governor as his candidate because Derek wanted to start lobbying. Rob’s administration has effectively failed and now the Governor has re-tapped Derek to be his candidate. The Governor is pro-CMV and pro-SB54 and Derek Brown will be as well as State Party Chair.
Phill Wright was formerly State Party Vice-Chair and is currently leading KMV. Phill Wright lost his last bid for State Party Chair against Rob Anderson even though he was the sitting State Party Vice-Chair. As the leader of KMV, Phill sued the State of Utah and lost while racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal debt for the Party which was eventually paid for by KMV founder, Dave Bateman. Along the way, Phill Wright opposed Rob Anderson in inter-Party fighting that revolved around SB54. Phill Wright will be anti-CMV and anti-SB54 as State Party Chair.
ANALYSIS: As the effective figureheads of the CMV and KMV factions of the Party, either Derek Brown or Phill Wright as State Party Chair will galvanize the other’s base against his leadership and thus not effectively reunify the Party ahead of very important Presidential, Congressional, and Gubernatorial elections in 2020. Derek is an actual lobbyist while Phill is effectually a lobbyist. Furthermore, as the Party is badly hurting for donations and participation, Utah continues to turn more blue every year as 60,000 people per year flock here from other states. There is no time to waste by continuing the feud over SB54 which is what the election of either Derek Brown or Phill Wright will ensure.
The Conservatives (KMV) like Phill Wright and the Moderates (CMV) like Derek Brown. Derek Brown is claiming however to be very conservative because he already knows that he has all of the Moderates’ votes (because they despise Phill) which means he only has to campaign to enough Conservatives to conquest some of Phill’s voters. However, being on the Governor’s short list two elections cycle in a row and meeting with Greg Miller and Gov. Herbert at the Alta Club for the Reagan Roundtable this past Thursday is evidence that Derek is anything but conservative.
I believe that Utah and Texas represent the last two bastions of Republicanism and Conservatism with Utah having the best chance to be the base that can restore the Constitutional Republic. However, we need strong, independent Republican leaders statewide.
I’m running for State Party Chair because, in my political calculus, the UTGOP is the best apparatus to promote these much needed leaders and Utah is the state best poised to resist the malevolence of Deep State actors and World Government formations. I also understand that that won’t happen if we can’t reunify immediately. Based on the political polarization of Derek and Phill AND the opinions of the state delegates, I declared candidacy to offer the delegation a neutral option from the SEC with the political capability to strike a compromise deal inside the Party on SB54. Furthermore, as State Party Chair, I will need hard-working Republicans like Derek Brown and Phill Wright to help me raise money and mobilize the grassroots respectively. There is room in the Big Tent for every Republican and if we work together, we can show the Nation how fantastic Utah can really be!