Meet the candidates for Utah Republican Party Chair

Meet the candidates for Utah Republican Party Chair

The Utah Rural Republican Alliance recently sent out a survey to the candidates for Utah GOP Leadership. Here are the candidates for Party Chair. The answers are unaltered and in a rotating basis.


What do you think the main responsibility is for the race you’re running for?

James Evans – The main responsibility of the UTGOP Chair is to be the chief executive of the Party. In that capacity there are many responsibilities both written and unwritten. Four main categories tend to fall under the chief executive umbrella – Party Spokesperson, Fundraiser, Strategic Planner/Organizer, and Promoter of the Party’s Platform and Principles. As the spokesperson for the party, which can be more complex than it sounds, for example, at any given time I have been called on to weigh-in or comment on legislation before the state and/or national legislature, current news items, opposition party items, events, media concerns, and registered voter concerns, to name a few.

In election years, the Chair must also have a strategic plan for many of our candidates, an astute awareness of the dynamics of all state campaigns, and responses ready for the disruptive activities of our political opponents. Failure to do so jeopardizes Republican Party membership, republican candidates, elected office holders, and donor participation.

The amount of time required for this volunteer position is also significant and I am fortunate to be able to commit the time required. Chairing the Utah Republican Party can be a lot of work at times, especially given our current political climate, and I think it is worth the effort because we have a great Party.

Phill Wright – The main responsibility of the Chair is to carry out the desire of the State Central Committee and the delegates. He is responsible to promote the platform, administer the affairs of the Party, raise funds, organize, coordinate and chair conventions, plan caucus night and training, work with the elected public officials, Republican County leadership, and is the spokesperson for the Party. The chair should also meet with and coordinate activities with the other Party officers, members of the State Executive Committee.  The Chair should appoint a budget committee and work from a budget.  He should also create other committees to help with fund raising, outreach, communication and training, and organize and oversee any Party staff and volunteers.  An effective Chair delegates responsibilities and works with others, holds people accountable and is accountable.

Rob Anderson – The Chair is essentially the CEO of the party. My responsibilities would be to follow the direction of the State Central Committee and operate within the guidelines of the party constitution and bylaws. This includes having a budget, fully staffed office, and promoting our conservative platform.

How do you plan to work with the elected officials if you’re elected?

Phill Wright – The best way to work with the elected officials is to have open and regular communication.  I will also make sure that all Party officers are involved in planning and working with our elected public officials and our Party officials throughout each county.

Rob Anderson – Once they are elected, we should support them while in office.  We need a FCC compliant and comprehensive database to enable our legislators to communicate with their constituents. We should host and maintain social media platforms and communicate especially to our younger generation so they understand our conservative values.  It is also important that we maintain neutrality and enable productive dialogue prior to the primary for all republican candidates who are seeking office.  We could do a much better job fund raising and be in a position to offer these services.

James Evans – As the incumbent in this race, I have an extensive political network from my prior years in this office and past party positions over the last 15 years, as well as from when I was a Senator in the state legislature. I am well versed in the hot-button legislative issues of the day and I have helped many of our legislators with campaigns in the past so there is little new bridge-building to be done. All of the legislators know me, know they can work with me and trust me, and know they can come to me any time they need the UTGOP’s assistance.
If re-elected, I plan to continue supporting our elected officials and create stronger relationships with those that are newly elected. I will also work tirelessly with our Republican elected officials to create as many opportunities as possible for them to interact with Republican Party members and registered voters about their concerns and the Party’s platform.


What plans do you have to address the unique set of issues that rural Utah faces in your respective role?

Rob Anderson – I would like to see the UTGOP have the ability to host and maintain social media accounts for each county. I would like to see check-a-buck monies as well as caucus night donations stay with the county parties. This requires a robust plan to fund raise, which I believe I can do. Also, we need to provide timely and focused support for all counties for our premier event which is caucus night. The more organized and efficient our meetings are, the stronger our party becomes.

James Evans – I have spent a considerable amount of time visiting the rural counties over the past four years working with and talking to their party leadership, their candidates, and their elected officials about their concerns. As Chair we helped flip Carbon County to Republican and we are one seat away from flipping Grand County to Republican.  As the UTGOP Chair, I have helped the rural counties understand how much influence they have in this important committee and use these meetings to advance their rural agenda and interact with statewide leaders like Senator Lee and Governor Herbert.  I feel I have been effective in this position in helping them take advantage of every opportunity the state party can provide for them to press their concerns and lobby for the interest of rural Utah.

That being said, one of the biggest issues facing rural Utah has been the development of the Count-My-Vote Initiative and the passing of SB-54. The main reason I have come down so hard on the side of the Caucus/Convention system is because, without it, rural counties will no longer have any influence in statewide elections.

Phill Wright – I support the Utah Rural Republican Alliance and attended their first meeting last year. I have attended meetings and events in nearly all of the rural counties over the last two years.  I believe the most important issue for rural counties is having a voice in the UTGOP. It is more of a hardship for rural party leadership to attend meetings and events that are regularly held in the more populated counties.   The party can help rural counties by periodically holding SCC meetings in the rural counties and more centrally located parts of the State, AND by taking advantage of technology to allow rural county leadership to participate in State Party meetings via video technology. For years, we have been lagging behind the democrat party in the use of technology.  The technology is available and we MUST be using it to make it easier for our rural counties to participate, AND to reach out to the large population of millennials who interact with social media on a regular basis.

How do you plan to help the party be more fiscally responsible in all areas?

James Evans – SB-54 litigation has taken a heavy toll on the UTGOP over the past three years as some big donors sit on the sidelines waiting for it to be resolved (we should have an answer from the 10th Circuit no later than Fall 2017). I want to make sure all Republicans understand that I negotiated with the attorneys up front that I needed to limit the UTGOP’s financial exposure on legal costs by limiting our financial obligation of the SB 54 lawsuit to what we are able to raise – that is being fiscally responsible. In addition, because of reduced revenues to the Party I slashed our operating budget from 22K/month down to 9K/month.  I also recently initiated a fundraising program where businesses have been given an opportunity to purchase advertising (and write it off as a business expense) in our regular correspondence to over 100,000 registered republicans and 5000+ attendees at our annual conventions. Innovative, free-market ideas like this will enable the UTGOP to become more independent of big donors in the future, avoiding funding difficulties that could occur should SB54-like issues arise again, and allowing it to be more fiscally responsible in all areas. Additionally, I have been able retain many of our donors through being persistent.  Now that I have successfully mitigated the Party’s financial downside we can move forward with a new budget committee proposal because they will now have additional revenue streams to work from.

Phill Wright – Fiscal responsibility starts with a budget.  A budget helps to define the necessary overhead to effectively plan for the funding needs of the party. The budget will also include the costs of full and part time personnel. We must do a better job forecasting the cost of future events, the funds needed to pay the costs, and the typical net profit, if any.  I will create a plan to reach out to the 648,000 active Utah Republicans to help fund the party on the grassroots level.  For too many years we have been dependent on large donations and the necessity for highly successful fundraising events, that can be cyclical depending on economic conditions.  The Party should not be asking for money from our public officials, but should be in a position financially to help Republican candidates fund their elections. The Party should also give the Check-A-Buck funds back to the counties where it belongs.

Rob Anderson – First and foremost we need a budget, and fiscal integrity within the party. We cannot rely on grass roots donations alone. If we have a budget, I can get donors to buy in to how much we will need and where it will go. We are in a position of significant financial distress so we will need to not only fund operating cost, but service past debts. It’s the right thing to do.


And the most important question, Holstein, Angus or Hereford?

Phill Wright – I believe the best tasting steak is well marbled.  For that reason I will choose Angus beef.

Rob Anderson – Angus- best beef.

James Evans – Whatever Emery County serves!

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