The leadership of the Utah Republican Party is now in the hands of a Sanpete County sheepman.
Delegates at the state convention Saturday, May 1 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City elected Carson Jorgensen of Mt. Pleasant, one of operators of the legendary Skyline Sheep Company, as their new state chairman. At 31, he is the youngest chairman in Utah Republican history.
“It’s an honor,” Jorgensen told the Messenger, “and I want to do the best to represent the people that elected me and properly represent the party that elected me that is representative of the people that put me there.”
Jorgensen replaced Derek Brown, a Salt Lake City attorney and former top aide to both Sen. Bob Bennett and Sen. Orrin Hatch. Brown had been chair since 2019.
Jordan Hess, who is vice president for public policy of the St. George Chamber of Commerce, was elected as vice chair. Olivia Horlacher, an adamant supporter of Donald Trump, was elected to become party secretary, while Mike Bird of Murray, a former student body president at Salt Lake Community College, was elected to another term as treasurer.
When asked why he ran for chair, Jorgensen will tell you it’s because he loves the State of Utah.
“Utah is my home, and has been home to my family for nearly 150 years, and will continue to be,” he says. “I am taking a hands-on approach to assuring that this state has safety, security and freedom for all Utahns in the years to come. I want to make sure what I had as a child, my value system and opportunities, are protected for my own children to have as well.”
As a sixth-generation sheep rancher and small businessman, Jorgensen comes from a rural, working class background, but he says he wants to see division between rural and urban disappear in Utah, along with any other divisions that could hold the GOP back in the coming years.
According to Jorgensen, his approach with the party moving forward is one centered on policy, and not people.
“Too often politics becomes about one person in particular, we don’t like that person, we don’t like their attitude, and then we’re turned off towards them,” Jorgensen said in a campaign video leading up to the election. “I’m more looking towards policy right now. We need to rally around policy, because that’s something we can all get behind regardless of personality. And that is a big problem inside of the party right now.”
Jorgensen also says he wants to see the party attract younger voters who are conservative-curious, and conservative voters who have transplanted from other states.
When it comes to the work ahead of him, Jorgensen told the Messenger fundraising would be a major focus, but he badly wants to work towards healing what he sees as a rift in his party.
“We have a big rift we are working to bridge,” he says. “You see it with senators; you see it all across the board. That is something we have to work hard to heal for the party to be healthy, for the caucus and convention system to function as it should.”
This isn’t Jorgensen’s first run at politics. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2019 2nd Congressional District race against Chris Stewart, R-Utah, before got back on the campaign horse to seek and win Utah GOP chairmanship.