ST. GEORGE - A burgeoning Utah movement to re-establish the rights of
state sovereignty over the federal government drew a crowd Friday
during a rally in the SunRiver St. George development.
The Patrick Henry Caucus was founded by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman,
in May but already has extended its reach to 21 states, thanks largely
to exposure on conservative commentator Glenn Beck's nationally
syndicated radio talk show and Fox News television show.
"This thing has just grown like wildfire," Wimmer said.
The Patrick Henry Caucus is an organization of legislators holding to
a constitutional interpretation of state's rights and striving to
reassert more local control over issues that affect each state.
Drawing a comparison to the tea party protests that have taken place
throughout the country during the past few months, Wimmer said, "I
view the Patrick Henry Caucus as the Legislatures' answer to those
The legislators are advancing bills that would allow guns to be free
from federal gun regulations if they are made and remain within a
given state, land bills that would give states control over their own
resources and a measure that would limit local law enforcement
agencies to enforcing federal laws only when there is a corresponding
Organizers said 300 people had pre-registered for the fund-raising
event. Volunteer Regina Venzke said she was surprised that perhaps as
many as 80 to 100 people didn't attend, but nearly as many people
arrived who had not registered beforehand.
Wimmer said the caucus has not been able to gain support from
Democratic legislators in Utah, although the caucus is designed to be
a non-partisan movement that welcomes anyone who is interested in
reaffirming the 10th Amendment.
Democrats in Missouri and Virginia have proven to be strong backers of
the caucus, he said, but Utah's dominance by the Republican Party was
evident in master of ceremonies Silvia Anderson, a former Sandy
representative, who drew applause when she told a joke that was
uncomplimentary to Democrats and declared, "I'm getting that (Sandy)
seat back in Republican hands."
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Wimmer admitted that his own conservative politics probably didn't
give the group a non-partisan credibility, but said, "We will not let
petty ideological differences stop us from being successful."
Local organizer Ellen Schunk said she became involved after she
learned of the caucus on the Beck show.
"It gave me hope for the country. It inspired me," she said. "Like a
lot of people, I'm concerned about government expansion."
Patricia Ramirez of St. George, who attended with her husband, Arthur,
said they decided to attend after hearing about the rally on the
"We never called our legislators before, and I think now is the time
to do something before things get too far out of hand," she said.
Ramirez said they have been concerned by health care reform and
"And just kind of losing control," she said.
"We are very concerned that we must do something before we lose this
country," said Dee Holland of St. George.
"It's going from liberalism to socialism," her husband, Jerry, added.
"It's going too fast, and those of us who are older remember how fast
it went in Europe and other countries," Dee Holland said.
"I'm sure this is the beginning," Jerry Holland said. "The ideas put
across will continue now until the election."