Update April 1st: Aaron Osmond selected by delegates to replace Chris Buttars; updated post HERE.
Utah District 10 State Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan), a solid conservative and a true culture warrior who took abuse for defending his values and emerged stronger than ever, is retiring from the legislative front. He announced his resignation from his senate seat effective March 10th, 2011, halfway through his current term. Deteriorating health is believed to be one of the factors, and some skeptics claim Buttars timed his retirement because he met his 10 year obligation that garners him lifelong medical coverage paid for by Utah taxpayers.
No less than 11 prospective successors have staked their claims to replace Buttars. Both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Salt Lake County Republican Party website provide a full list. The SLC GOP will select the name of a replacement to be forwarded to Governor Gary Herbert at an election to be held during a special caucus on March 31st. Each candidate will be given five minutes to speak in their behalf to 230 delegates before a round of voting. If no one obtains a majority vote in any round, the candidates will be rated by the number of votes received and those whose votes comprise more than 50 percent will be included in the next round. Subsequent round speeches will be limited to two minutes.
Here are the prospective successors, listed in order of their likelihood to succeed. Those who I think have the best chances are denoted by asterisks. Links to candidate websites provided where available; click on the highlighted name:
-- **Ken Ivory: Currently represents House District 47. Authoritatively thumped incumbent moderate Republican Steve Mascaro in the 2010 primary. Received a grade of 91 percent from the Utah Taxpayers Association. His selection would require another special election to fill his unexpired House term.
-- **Merlynn Newbold: Currently represents House District 50. Received a grade of 90 percent from the Utah Taxpayers Association. Her selection would require another special election to fill her unexpired House term.
-- **Christie Buttars Giles: A sentimental favorite, since she's the daughter of Chris Buttars. She's concerned that no one currently serving would be willing to continue her father’s practice of sponsoring controversial legislation that still found backing by a majority of legislators. Equally forthright, but less controversial than her Dad. According to Tribune columnist Paul Rolly, Chris Buttars has endorsed his daughter.
-- Aleta Taylor: Currently serving as a South Jordan City Councilwoman. If delegates want an experienced lawmaker but don't want to be bothered with a subsequent special election to fill a vacated House seat, Taylor might be selected.
-- James Williams: A small business owner who received valuable campaign experience during his unsuccessful run to replace Bob Bennett.
-- Aaron Osmond: Unsuccessfully challenged South Jordan Mayor Kent Money in 2009. The Osmond name will provoke some interest but is unlikely to confer any extra advantage.
The remaining aspirants are all first-time candidates: Jay Cobb, Rich Cunningham, Michael Johnson, Ed Loomis and Pat Malan
District 10, which covers parts of West Jordan, South Jordan and Herriman, includes 94 precincts and has seen substantial growth during the past decade. Utah's 2010 Census numbers show that South Jordan grew by 71.3 percent, while West Jordan grew by 51.8 percent during the decade. The district is considered a prime candidate to be split during the next legislative reapportionment.
Chris Buttars' political worldview was best summed up in this Salt Lake Tribune story. "I love America and I love the traditional values and the absolute moral truths that the Founding Fathers wove into the United States Constitution," Buttars said. "I believe freedom must always be defended on every front as there are people and ideologies that seek to undermine and devalue and outright destroy the Constitution."