SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A resolution to censure Utah Senator Mitt Romney failed at Saturday’s Utah GOP organizing convention, hours after he was booed upon taking the stage at the event. The motion came after he voted to convict President Donald Trump in both of his impeachment trials.
Don Guymon, a Davis County delegate and sponsor of the censure resolution said he believes Romney supported a process driven by Democratic lawmakers.
“Mitt Romney’s votes to impeach President Trump and remove him from office in two ‘illegitimate’ impeachment trials hurt our party, hurt our constitution, hurt our republic and hurt our party,” said Guymon.
The vote on the resolution was the last item on the convention’s agenda, but it drew a contentious debate among the state’s GOP delegates. Those opposing the motion say the Republican party is not solely Trump’s party or a “cancel culture” party.
“Ronald Reagan said, ‘My 80 percent friend is not my 100 percent enemy.’ If you look at the two senators from Utah and the extent to which they vote in line with the policy positions of Donald Trump, the senator that voted more often with President Trump was Mitt Romney,” said Steve Densley, a Utah County GOP delegate.
He went on to say, “So this proposal is not about whether Mitt Romney is a good Republican on a broad range of policy positions. It’s about one thing. It’s about sending a message. And the message that will be sent is that this party can’t tolerate dissent. If we pass this resolution, the story in the press will not be a discussion on the nuances of Constitutional law. The story will be that this is Donald Trump’s party. But this party is not any individual’s party. This party is not about punishing dissenters. This is not the cancel culture party. This is the Republican Party. That is the message we ought to be sending. And that is why we ought to vote against this resolution.”
Even the outgoing party chair, Derek Brown’s wife, Emilie De Azevedo Brown stepped up to speak against the censure.
“Is it possible to completely disagree with those impeachment votes and still stand here 100 percent against censure?” said Brown. “Are we a party of person or are we a party of principle? If we’re a party of principle, we don’t do this. If the point of the censure is to let Mitt Romney we’re displeased, I promise you, he knows.”
Supporters of the censure argued a large number of Utah republicans were frustrated by Romney’s votes.
“The censure has more than 11,000 electronic signatures of Utahns, complete with all contact information. It was minimally shared with a few Facebook groups. Yet, it gathered five times as many voter signatures as of today’s credential delegates. There are 17,000 members of Remove Mitt Romney Facebook groups. It is obvious Utah voters, Republican voters are incredibly frustrated with Sen. Romney’s impeachment vote,” said Lisa Shepherd, former secretary of Utah GOP.
The state GOP delegation was so divided over whether to censure Romney that a manual vote count had to be conducted. But in the end, the vote fell short by a slim margin with 798 delegates voting against the censure and 711 voting in favor.
Shortly after the convention, Carson Jorgensen was named the party’s new chairman in a showdown against finalist Stuart Peay, who initially garnered more votes than him in the first round of voting.