In 2006 Rep. Jeff Alexander (R-Provo) decided to retire. But he made the decision after the filing deadline so there was no other Republican to run for his seat. He left his name on the ballot and, since they haven’t figured out how to elect Democrats in Utah County yet, won. Then he promptly resigned.
When a seat is empty in the Utah legislature, the governor appoints a replacement. The parties and lawmakers have tied his hands to that he can only appoint the nominee of the party whose candidate won the most recent election. So it was to be the Republican party that chose a successor.
The delegates convened in January 2007 and voted for John Curtis by one vote over Chris Herrod. But there was a suspicious mix up in the bylaws of the already ethically dubious Utah County Republican Party. The rules had never been updated to reflect the governor’s limited discretion. So both names were submitted to the state party. Republican acting state chair Enid Greene, who previously resigned from Congress in disgrace after numerous election law violations, picked the candidate who won the smaller amount of votes, Herrod.
It is unknown what might have animated her decision. Curtis had shown an independent-minded streak once flirting with the idea of organizing an ultraconservative wing of the Democratic party just to offer some competition in Utah county. Did Herrod display some sort of blindly loyal herd behavior by contrast? Let’s take a look.
In 2005 and 2006 Rep. Jeff Alexander showed moderate independence by voting 21% and 25% Democratic in partisan votes. Rep. Herrod, representing the same district, scored only 2% and 5% in 2007 and 2008. Herrod earned the very lowest score in the entire Utah House in his first session.
Apparently Ms. Greene knows how to pick them.
(Yes, it is the Brian’s Utah Weblog policy to consider high Democratic ratings a sign of wisdom and independence while very low Democratic ratings are a sign of slavish obedience to pernicious authority. That would be inconsistent only if the Republicans were not so often wrong on the issues.)