Opinionated @ CFE

Utah GOP Bans Mike Ridgway and Sets a Bad Precedent


This weekend, the Utah GOP decided to effectively ban “troublemaker” Mike Ridgway from the party entirely. This comes after a long line of public intra-party fights, nasty name-calling, and legal wrangling. His detractors accuse him of “bad behavior” including “intimidation” and “threats”, but without citing much of anything in the way of specific incidences. Ridgway portrays it as a fight against a corrupt “good old boys” network that won’t follow its own rules and has no problems using threats and intimidation of its own. No matter how you feel about the parties involved, though, this whole mess stinks to high heaven.

Let’s bear in mind how this became messy in the first place. A number of years ago, Ridgway managed to get into some arguments concerning following party rules, something the leadership apparently wasn’t doing. In the process, he ended up crossing infamous bully Mark Towner, at the time a party insider who all too often ended up embarrassing those he associated with by his own bad behavior. (And Mark, don’t email me any more empty legal threats about this like you did the last time. You’re a public figure, so try using that thick skin you always claim to have, eh?)  Towner was the one really leading the anti-Ridgway charge, likely as a way to curry favor with the party leadership. You may recall that Steve Turley did the same thing not too long ago.

At any rate, Towner managed to get a judge who’s friends with his wife to issue a restraining order barring Ridgway from being anywhere he or his wife happened to be, including any party functions. In addition to this, the party had Ridgway arrested for showing up to a party meeting (which I understand Towner wasn’t even at), but SLC DA Sim Gill couldn’t find any charges to press against him. The real irony here is that Towner, for all his maneuvering, ended up leaving the Republican Party and even sought to be Scott McCoy’s replacement. (If you want a good laugh, watch him trashing on vouchers despite having been deeply entrenched on the pro-voucher side.) Why is the GOP leadership so willing to continue Towner’s personal vendetta with Ridgway long after he has both left and trashed the party?

My take is that they are so invested in being anti-Ridgway that they can’t back down now or risk admitting that they goofed up big time. Mike wasn’t always as sharp-tongued and insistent as he is today, and I think we can blame the bad treatment he received at the hands of the party he was trying to fix. Hey Utah GOP? You created this mess, and you’ve picked a heck of a way to deal with it. If he’s an “uncivil jerk”, an “intimidator”, or a “harasser”, it’s because you forced his hand. You can only beat someone so much before they’ll lash out.

So other than a sense of injustice at how the party system can grind people up and spit them out, why should you care? Consider that the GOP (and to a lesser extent, the Democrats) are experiencing an insurgency of sorts as party reformers make attempts at seizing control and changing the direction of the party. All it takes is for another Towner-like bully to label you a “troublemaker” and you’re persona non grata. Could people like Connor Boyack or Claudia Wright be persecuted and demonized by their chosen party simply for demanding that the party get better? If the way the GOP treats Ridgway is any indication, I’m betting on it.

4 Responses to Utah GOP Bans Mike Ridgway and Sets a Bad Precedent

  1. Do you want to REALLY have a REAL story to tack on to this topic? You should poke around a bit and find out what is the current status of Towner v. Ridgway — Yes, it just passed its fifth birthday and is STILL under appeal in the Utah Court of Appeals. In other words, THIS is the primary case the Utah GOP uses to perpetuate its case against Mike, yet it never was a case at all. Mark liked to think this case was “won, over and done with” and so did a lot of other people… that was before I started doing some poking around and found out that NOT only was it NOT over and done with, but that Mike had a very strong case for having Mark’s nefarious and illegal claims dismissed. Given that EVERYTHING the Utah GOP has done to Mike is based upon “this” … indeed the level of corruption is truly “interesting” to say the least. Stay tuned, things could get really interesting.

  2. You say Ridgway wasn’t always as sharp-toungued and insistent as he is today, but I’ve known Mike since the late 1990s and he was abrasive, disruptive, argumentative, confrontational and caustic back then. I guess you must be going back at least 15 years ago.

    A lot of people agree with Ridgway about automatic delegates, but have you ever wondered why Ridgway is such a loner on this? It’s because he’s so abrasive that no one wants to hang around with him. Instead of merely disagreeing and pointing out the errors of the opposition, he demonizes and attacks. You would think the opposition is guilty of genocide by the way he frames the issue.

    And the party’s problems with Ridgway predate Mark Towner. Towner didn’t show up until about eight years ago. Ridgway was already a pariah by then.

    Ridgway and his supporters — most of whom deserted him years ago — used to hijack the various state and county conventions with procedural motions. These guys frequently knew Roberts Rules better than the person running the convention. Most delegates would just get bored and leave the convention. After all, these people get involved in party politics because they care about budgets, taxes, government waste, immigration, national defenese. You know, the stuff that matters. Instead, Ridgway et al would turn these conventions into procedural pissing matches.

    It’s hard to quantify the damage Ridgway has done to the party. Hundreds of good, solid, conservative Republican delegates dropped out of party politics because they got tired of being diverted from the stuff they cared about to the stuff they really felt was not worth their time worrying about.

    Ridgway is a smart guy, a good writer and debater. He’s also honest. He could accomplish a lot of good. Too bad he is so messed up.

    Good riddance.

  3. You really are the coolest Jesse, Jesse. And yes, Andrea’s right, your article could stand a few corrections. First amendment free speech rights. Too onerous for Republicans who couldn’t care less how party leaders cheat the candidates and the voters who support them. People like Andrea.

  4. Mark Towner’s ship is sinking fast in the Utah Court of Appeals. He has 3 days to submit his reply brief. I have no college degree, am not a lawyer (yes, that’s redundant) and am representing myself in my appeal. Mark has a dishonest attorney for a wife. She better hope for her professional reputation’s sake that I’m wrong in my hunches as to whether Mark can survive the hole I just blew in his pirate ship. Down with the anchors, matey!

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