Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Letter to the Editor: No Gochnour Bullies, Just GOP Food Fight

The Standard Examiner came out recently with a rather prickly editorial piece blasting my colleague, Representative Justin Fawson (R-North Ogden), for 'bullying' Caitlin Gochnour by asking her to withdraw from the race for Weber County Commissioner.  The tone of the editorial was toxic and I believe warranted a response.

Here is my letter as recently published:

The Standard-Examiner’s April 24 editorial, "By refusing to be bullied, Gochnour gives Weber County voters a choice," cites so-called 'bullying' of Gochnour, a candidate for Weber County Commission. Such a claim is both misinformed and wrongheaded.

The piece references Rep. Justin Fawson's Facebook statement that he wishes Gochnour would exit the race out of respect for the traditional GOP candidate-winnowing process. The editorial turns this statement from a molehill into a mountain. It then claims that Fawson is attempting to conjure political powers that were once his but now no longer exist. This simply isn't the case.

Ironically, the editorial finds itself guilty of using the same power that Fawson is maligned for attempting to use — the power of suggestion.

The election cycle this year is experimenting with new processes and a lot of passionate debate is being had about what it now means to be a political party. With the highly informative caucus-convention process, which builds relationships between voters and candidates, being turned on its ear, the Utah GOP finds itself in the midst of an identity crises. Voters who participate in this process are exasperated by the prospect of the caucus-convention system being discarded into the dustbin of history.

Fawson's suggestion and Gochnour's candidacy make sense in light of his boiling backdrop. Indeed, if Gochnour has suffered anything, it is an inadvertent case of bad timing. Years of non-partisan Ogden City Council service have necessarily left her outside of the long-fomenting SB54 rancor until just last month. She has entered the race according to the known rules as they have been established (as flawed as they may currently be). But, in doing so, she has unwittingly bumbled into a GOP food fight.

Ultimately, the mess will be cleaned up, differences negotiated, and the party will be unified again and move forward with clarity. But in the meantime, expect a contentious campaign season. It is best we put on our ponchos — the ketchup and mustard are flying.

Rep. Jeremy Peterson


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