'Automatic delegates' win a round
Judge Glenn Iwasaki of the 3rd District Court denied Mike Ridgway a temporary restraining order to stop the state and Salt Lake County Republican Party from appointing so-called "automatic delegates" to vote at the county and state conventions.
Delegates wield a lot of political power, because they decide which two candidates in a race advance to the primary or, if 60 percent or more support one candidate, make that person the party nominee in the general election.
But Ridgway isn't giving up yet.
"I have no choice in my mind but to continue to press forward," Ridgway said shortly after the denial. He said he believes the judge was sympathetic to his cause.
He said he will continue to push the court to stop the state and county Republican parties from "consistently" violating party rules against appointed delegates. Ridgway has challenged the practice at both state and party conventions for years.
Party leaders believe they aren't breaking any rules. However, they admit there is some "ambiguity" to the party's delegate appointment rules, State GOP Vice Chairman Todd Weiler said.
Weiler said the state party constitution leaves delegate allocation up to the county parties.
Appointed delegates are typically Republican elected officials, like the county surveyor and GOP legislators. Other appointed delegates include the county party officers and executive committee members.
In the past, Ridgway said, Republican party leaders and elected officials did not get automatic delegate status, and it shouldn't be any different now.
"When you start giving perks to high-level important people you corrupt the process," Ridgway said. "If you can't even choose your own representative to the state Legislature, because that choice is already made for you by party leaders ... then why do we live in America?"
Ridgway is already preparing for a future win. Tuesday night he urged all Republicans attending caucuses to vote on an extra state and county delegate, so everything is cleared up before state and county GOP conventions in May.
If a judge eventually rules in his favor, 58 precincts would get to vote for one more county and state delegate, he said.
Ridgway said the local automatic delegates are worse than the "travesty" the Democratic Party has with superdelegates, who can vote for any presidential candidate no matter who Average Joe Democrats vote for at the polls.
"In the Republican Party, it's not just a travesty, it's unethical because the bylaws don't let them do it," Ridgway said.