Mitt Romney

Sen. Mitt Romney addresses the Utah Republican Party 2021 Organizing Convention Saturday, May 1, 2021, in West Valley City, Utah. Romney was booed as he addressed the Utah GOP convention.

The sponsor of the proposal to censure U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney that Utah Republicans turned back at their state convention says the vote on Saturday doesn’t end things.

“As I told people, I don’t think this is an end. I think this is the beginning,” said Don Guymon, a Republican delegate from West Bountiful who sponsored the measure. “It’s clear a lot of people aren’t happy with Mitt Romney.”

Still, the continued push against Romney stemming from his votes to impeach President Donald Trump is exasperating some Northern Utah Republicans. GOPers voted down the resolution by a 798-711 vote, according to Guymon. Weber County Republicans are to weigh a similar proposal at their convention this coming Saturday.

Lori Brinkerhoff, a Republican delegate from Hooper who was unable to attend the state convention because of recent surgery, thinks the divide among GOPers on the issue underscores a deeper rift. “It saddens me, but I do not see us unifying at this point. I think we remain fractured,” she said.

John Johnson, a Republican delegate from North Ogden who was on hand, didn’t like the booing by some of Romney’s critics that accompanied the U.S. senator’s appearance on the stage at Saturday’s event in West Valley City. He abstained on the censure question, he said, lamenting what he viewed as a lack of civility. “I felt uncomfortable when (Romney) came out and spoke and people booed him. I actually got up and walked out,” he said.

Still, Johnson, a member of the Utah Senate, doesn’t necessarily think the outburst the issue spurred at the convention bodes for division going forward, praising the young slate elected to Utah Republican Party leadership posts. Carson Jorgensen, a Sanpete County rancher, won the race for chair and the winners in the vice chair, secretary and treasurer contests were, like him, on the younger side.

“I’m hoping the new leadership can move us past this. I’m hoping they can unite us together,” Johnson said. “It made me feel good that we have millennials taking over the party because I think we do not reach out to the young people.”

The censure measure pushed by Guymon stems from continuing anger at Romney’s votes to impeach Trump in both U.S. Senate impeachment trials. Romney was the sole GOPer to vote for impeachment in the first trial in 2020 and one of only seven to do so in the second trial last February. Both trials fell short of the votes needed, but Guymon maintains that Romney’s critical stance of Trump buoyed Democrats in voting last November.

Sore feelings that linger on, Guymon maintains, will serve to spur increased involvement among more conservative Republicans “committed to protecting the Constitution and our God-given rights.” He also suspects Romney will face opposition in the party’s primary in 2024, should the incumbent seek a second Senate term.

Even so, other Northern Utah GOPers view efforts like Guymon’s with distaste. Many GOPers, said Brian Childs, a Kaysville Republican, are leery of Trump, and Childs maintains that Trump has hurt Republicans at the ballot box, not Romney.

“I feel like Congress has totally failed us. They’re not working together,” Childs said. Romney, though, breaks that mold and is trying to bring about change, working across the political aisle. “I think he’s trying to make things happen,” Childs said.

Brinkerhoff said she was “shocked, horrified and dismayed” at the booing directed at Romney at Saturday’s convention.

“I believe he speaks his mind and whether we agree or disagree with him, we must be civil in all our conversations,” she said. What’s more, that the negative response by some Utah GOPers to Romney garnered national media attention, she said, “is embarrassing.”

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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