GOP State Convention highlights

state conventionI attended the GOP convention last Saturday and along with 3785 of my fellow state delegates, enjoyed a pretty mild convention. Even Twitter was relatively quiet, although there were a few of us live-tweeting. In case you were running errands in the rain, here’s a quick recap.

First this caveat: anyone who says it was an “easy win” has never been a candidate. Like the Olympians who make it LOOK easy, there is a LOT that goes on behind the scenes. Blood, sweat and tears for months or even years and a million moving parts that go into a campaign can make a big win look easy – but trust me – not to the ones behind-the-scenes.

Now, here are some of the highlights, aka Big Winners:

*Mia Love: After months of campaigning, millions of dollars in fundraising and a full team of some of the best campaign staff in the state, on Saturday she captured 78% of the vote and locked down the GOP nomination. She is a heavy favorite to win in November. I am seeing a more polished, more seasoned Mia Love this cycle – from messaging to personal and group interactions to campaign staff and strategy. The lessons learned last cycle are paying off in spades. I look forward to being in DC in January 2015 for her swearing-in.

*Any Incumbent: It was a GREAT year to be an incumbent headed in to county and state conventions. Of course it wasn’t a guarantee, but with only 2 exceptions, if you were an incumbent on the convention ballot, you were moving on to the next phase. (Reps Jim Bird and Jerry Anderson lost their races at convention.) Only 3 incumbents went to a primary and the rest of the incumbents are going straight to the November ballot. (The 3 incumbents in a primary are Senator Evan Vickers and Reps Dana Layton and John Westwood).
All 3 sitting Congressmen are returning to DC by healthy margins, with Chaffetz leading the pack at 87%. Rob Bishop got 81% and Chris Stewart bested the other 3 opponents in his race with 68% on the first ballot. (Of course, it won’t be official until November, but they face no serious challenger from another party.)

*Mike Lee: A standing ovation BEFORE he even started speaking, raucous applause interrupting his speech multiple times, he was clearly THE rockstar of the day. (Mia Love, Jason Chaffetz and Sean Reyes were also very, very well received.) It’s also interesting to note that a healthy majority of the 2014 delegates are new, having never been a county delegate before. Senator Lee, of course, had “red meat” for the convention crowd (“Say no to a president who creates laws with a pen and a cell phone!” but he also included plenty of statements of inclusion and working together. (“It’s time we stop talking about Ronald Reagan and start acting like him” and “We need to look for converts, not heretics.”)

*Talented Volunteers: Under the able guidance of people like Adrielle Herring Bowler, Joni Crane, Helen Redd and others, the convention unfolded with far fewer hitches than it would have otherwise. Three cheers for those who stepped in at the last minute, worked their guts out gave us a convention that, like those Olympic feats, looked pretty smooth.