As I sat listening to each of the candidates most of whom gave very good patriotic and moving speeches I was most impressed with Cherilyn Eager. She was dynamic, passionate and extremely articulate. She was my first choice. She is by far the most conservative of the bunch and it was probably her ultra Conservative positions that did her in.
The first round of voting looked like this: Mike Lee28.75%, Tim Bridgewater 26.84%, Bob Bennett 25.91% and Cherilyn Eager 15.84%. The first round eliminated four other candidates including former two-term Merrill Cook. I don’t understand why he tried to run for another high office. Can’t any of our Senators and Congressmen be satisfied with serving two terms? He gave a very good speech but looked like he was about to have a heart attack at any moment. The gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and asked me if I thought that the streams of sweat running down Mr. Cooks face were indications of a pending heart attack.
The comic relief of the bunch was Leonard Fabiano. I probably shouldn’t say such a thing because I am sure that he is a fine person but his speech quickly turned into an endorsement for Cleon Skousen’s (incredible) book, THE 5000 YEAR LEAP, a book that teaches an in-depth course on the founding of our constitution.
He spent the majority of his 5 minute speech talking about how he wanted to organize an army of soldier delegate who would go two-by-two all over the state of Utah teaching from the book. I know what you are thinking, yes, it did sound very similar to a very successful program run by the LDS church. But I will cut him some slack since he recently returned as an LDS Mission President in Europe.
But just when you thought his call for this massive conservative political army was purely metaphoric he called for two of us from each County to meet with him after the convention to start the organization of what he eventually called “Revolution for the Constitution.” At this point delegates began to laugh under their breath at this poor man. Again, a very nice guy but in the end I was convinced that he was probably not operating on all cylinders.
Back to the vote…
Round two was euphoric. The atmosphere in the Salt Palace was filled with tension and anticipation. We waited what seemed like hours, although it was about 40 minutes for the ballots to be counted. Then the news came around 3:30. Bridgewater took the lead with 37.42% and Mike Lee second with 35.99 and Bennett left the Senate with a third place finish and only 26.59% of the vote.
The crowd jumped to their feet and erupted in cheers and whistles for what seemed like another 40 minutes but actually only five very long minutes. Now that Bridgewater took the lead it was time for the final vote into round three. After another very long wait for ballots to be counted Bridgewater came in on top with 57.28% of the vote to Lee’s 42.72%. He fell short of winning the nomination without a primary by only 2.72% or about 94 votes out of 3,452 voting delegates.
At this point Bob Bennett had already become ancient (no pun intended) history. All of the attention was focused on Bridgewater who for weeks was considered the underdog behind Lee. Tim gave a very passionate and conservative speech. He outlined his conservative beliefs and political agenda. I am confident that he will win over Lee in the primary. He surely has my vote!
One last thing, the Chairman called for recognition of the years of service Bennett gave our state and the delegates offered him a hearty applause.
I believe this election was more about “Self-Imposed Term Limits” than anything else. Although Bennett stepped in the political cow dung on several occasions with his huge cash contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac employees, his own version of a Health Care bill with “Government Mandated” requirements and his pro vote for the TARP (troubled asset relief program), it was obvious to me by the numerous comments I heard all day long about his commitment to only serve two terms that really ended his political career.
It will be interesting to see if our next Senator makes the same term limit commitments or if he will be running for a third term in 18 years from now.
History in the making and I loved every minute of it!