Lake Tribune (UT)
still leads governor's race
By Paul Rolly
April 25, 2004
The maneuvering and strategizing and handicapping among the
eight Republicans vying for governor have intensified in the
final days before the GOP State Convention May 8, and with at
least five active delegate polls in the field, some trends are
beginning to take shape.
Surveys by two gubernatorial campaigns are
consistent with polls by the Utah Bankers Association, the
Utah League of Credit Unions and the Exoro lobbying group. All
show Gov. Olene Walker, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Fred Lampropoulos
locked in a three-way race for first place. Then there is a
gap to the next group, consisting of House Speaker Marty
Stephens, former Congressman Jim Hansen and Board of Regents
Chairman Nolan Karras, with Hansen slightly ahead.
Huntsman is the leader among the top three,
although specific numbers vary with the polls. Huntsman,
Lampropoulos and Walker are in the 14 to 17 percent range,
with the second group at between 6 and 9 percent.
It should be noted that the number of
delegates contacted varies from poll to poll. Even in the
largest poll, only 60 percent of the 3,500 state delegates
responded. None of the polls is independent, but represent
either candidates or special interest groups, and it is
impossible to determine a margin of error.
The real front-runner still is
"undecided," with close to 30 percent of the
delegates stating they have not made up their minds. Veteran
political observers say many of the delegates who name a
candidate now could change their minds before they vote.
Pundits point to two years ago, when
congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater gave "the speech
of his life" and won the GOP convention in the race for
Utah's 2nd Congressional District. Bridgewater later lost in a
photo-finish primary to John Swallow, who then lost to
Democrat Jim Matheson.
Another example of convention-day magic was
Ted Stewart, who was given no chance by delegate counters in
the 1992 race for the U.S. Senate, especially with such big-monied
candidates as Joe Cannon and Bob Bennett. Stewart gave a
rousing speech at the convention and came in third place out
of a field of five. More important, he lost by less than 20
votes to second-place finisher and eventual senator Bob
An intriguing twist to this convention,
particularly with so many candidates running for governor, is
the relatively new Instant Voter Runoff (IVR) system. The idea
is slowly gaining momentum and is being considered in some
states for use in primary and general elections. The system
was used two years ago in Utah, when the Republicans had three
congressional races to be decided at the state convention.
Under IVR, the delegates vote just one
time, but they list their preferences from one to eight in the
governor's race. The last-place finisher in the first round is
dropped from the list and the candidate listed as second on a
ballot picks up those votes for the second round. The process
continues until there are two left or one gets 60 percent and
the automatic nomination.
Many candidates have asked delegates
already committed to someone else to consider them as number
two. Under that plan, someone starting out in fourth or fifth
place could end up among the leaders if he or she could pick
up enough second-place votes.
The idea was first proposed by GOP State
Central Committee member Mike Ridgeway, considered by many
party leaders as a fringe voice who often criticizes the
tactics of the establishment. But the concept grew in
popularity among more mainstream elements of the party after
incumbent Gov. Mike Leavitt was forced into a primary four
years ago by Glen Davis, a political unknown. With an instant
runoff, they reasoned, Leavitt would eventually have gotten
the 60 percent needed to eliminate all competition at the
San Francisco is employing IVR in its
municipal elections this year. Had that been done in Salt Lake
City in 1991, Dave Jones or Mike Zuhl would have been elected
mayor instead of Deedee Corradini, because those two split the
same group of supporters and would have gotten each other's
second-place votes. In 1999, Jones or Jim Bradley would likely
have been elected mayor for the same reason.
This year, in the Salt Lake County mayor's
race, independent Merrill Cook may take Republican votes from
incumbent Nancy Workman and open the door for Democrat Peter
Corroon. But if IVR were in place in the county election,
Workman likely would pick up Cook's votes on a second ballot.
Nationally, Al Gore probably would have won
the presidency in 2000 by picking up the second-ballot votes
of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. George Bush might have
won re-election in 1992 by getting the IVR votes of Ross
Then there is Louisiana.
The top two finishers in the 1992
gubernatorial primary were former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who had
been indicted in his previous tenure on corruption charges,
and David Duke, grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Even
Louisiana residents made fun of themselves during the run-off,
sporting bumper stickers such as: "Vote for the crook.
It's important." And: "Pick the lizard over the
Both Edwards and Duke are in prison. With
IVR, the two finalists might have been different.