SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Republican Party says it has no plans to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for his vote to convict Donald Trump in the former president's second impeachment trial.
"As a party, we are focused on supporting our elected officials and unifying around those principles that got them elected," party chair Derek Brown told FOX 13. "At this point, we believe it is crucial to focus on unifying our party, working together to retain those new voters who joined the Republican Party this last year, while bringing back any who may have left."
The question comes as some of the six other Republican senators who voted to convict the president have been censured by party officials in their home states. The Louisiana Republican Party did so for Sen. Bill Cassidy on Saturday, while Sen. Patrick Toomey has been censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees and the North Carolina GOP is expected to vote Monday on whether to censure Sen. Richard Burr.
In addition, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was censured earlier this month after her vote to impeach Trump in the House.
In a written statement, the Utah GOP later expounded on Brown's comments.
"The violence at the US Capitol on January 6 was horrific and inexcusable," it read in part. "Utah’s United States Senators each experienced those events firsthand, and then relived them during the ... impeachment presentation. In the end, each of our senators voted differently."
The party cited a quote from Ronald Reagan that "within our tent, there will be many arguments and divisions over approach and method ... [but] unity of thought does not require unanimity of thought.”
The Utah GOP stated that while both Romney and fellow Sen. Mike Lee have been criticized for their votes in the trial, their differences in opinion "showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on 'unanimity of thought.'"
"Disagreement is natural and healthy in a party that is based on principles—not on persona," the statement continued. "We look neither to the past, nor to be punitive."
The party then stated that they look forward to the future, and that they believe standing by their principles will retain those who have joined the party in recent years and even bring back those who have left.
While not a scientific form of data gathering, FOX 13 asked viewers and readers if they would support a censure. Thousands weighed in on Facebookand Twitter expressing strong feelings both ways. In addition, The Salt Lake Tribunereported on a motion being circulated online in support of a censure that had nearly 2,300 people signed on.
After Romney voted to convict Trump on one of two articles of impeachment in 2020, legislation was introduced by some Republican state lawmakers to censure him, but it was later dropped. They instead issued a citation thanking the then-president for his work for the people of Utah. The efforts were intended to maintain good relations with the White House amid an apparent fear that Trump might take some kind of action against the state as payback for Romney's vote.
Before the legislation was dropped, then-Gov. Gary Herbert at the time said he would oppose efforts to censure the senator.