Utah, home of Trump’s conservative critics, hosts GOP meeting | Missouri News

By SAM METZ, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A dark red state home to some of Donald Trump’s most vocal conservative critics will host members of the Republican National Committee this week for a meeting at which party officials are expected to cement the status of the former president as GOP flag bearer ahead of midterm elections.

Utah – home to US Senator Mitt Romney, co-founders of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin – will serve as the backdrop for discussions on issues important to Trump, including turnout in the presidential debates and a resolution censuring the two Republicans from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

There are few Republican-majority states where Trump’s behavior clashes with political culture like he does in Utah, a conservative stronghold that prides itself on maintaining political civility in times of polarization. The state has mostly resisted the leftward political shifts that have swept through neighboring Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. Republicans, who control the governor’s mansion and state house, say the state’s low unemployment rate and rapid economic growth provide a model for the benefits of conservative governance and political discourse.

“We have something you’ll hear a lot about: it’s called the Utah way,” said McMullin, who is now running for the US Senate as an independent. “Usually it has something to do with finding common ground to resolve issues. I mean, that’s what defined our politics.

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In closed meetings this week, RNC members are expected to discuss a proposal to require the party’s nomination contestants to pledge not to participate in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been instrumental in presidential elections in recent years. 30 years. The article, rooted in Trump’s longstanding criticism of the commission, is expected to be voted on by the full membership this summer.

RNC members are also expected to resume a debate on whether to keep Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states to vote, or change the order, as Democrats mull it over. Committee members can also pass a resolution on the expulsion of GOP Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney from the party for joining the House Jan. 6 committee.

Tim Chambless, a political scientist at the University of Utah, said the state’s unwavering preference for Republicans clouded its independent streak on some issues, like immigration. Religion influences politics in Utah unlike most states, and more than a century and a half after the arrival of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fleeing religious persecution, conservatives remain staunch defenders of refugees here, he said.

Polls show that a large portion of faith members disapprove of Trump’s brash style and incendiary rhetoric, especially his comments about women and immigrants.

“People voted for him in 2020, but not with much love in their hearts,” he said.

Trump won Utah convincingly in 2016 and 2020, but his margin of victory was narrow compared to former Republican presidential candidates.

In 2012, Romney, himself a Latter-day Saint, won Utah by a larger margin than any other state, with nearly three times the number of votes of President Barack Obama. Four years later, Trump won just 46% of the state’s electorate, largely because McMullin eliminated more than 240,000 voters.

Even after becoming one of Trump’s most vocal opponents, Romney was easily elected a senator in 2018. He then voted twice to impeach Trump; however, a state party effort to censor it last year failed after it lacked majority support from state Republican Party delegates.

Stuart Stevens and Reed Galen, two co-founders of the Lincoln Project, live in Park City. The group was founded in 2019 by current and former Republicans disillusioned with the direction of the GOP under Trump.

But the GOP was Utah’s fastest-growing political party during Trump’s tenure, adding more than 200,000 registered active voters. Trump won hundreds of thousands more votes in 2020 than in 2016, increasing his share of the electorate by double digits.

“They predicted that Utah would turn more blue, or even turn into a purple state, in the last election. But Utah actually moved the other way,” said Utah Republican Party Chairman Carson Jorgensen, a 32-year-old sheep farmer from rural Sanpete County.

Jorgensen said he hopes the winter meeting will showcase Salt Lake City as an ideal location for the party’s convention in 2024. The RNC plans to make a decision on a host this spring and is considering Nashville, Tennessee, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh in addition to Salt Lake City. The 2020 convention was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with business sessions held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and other events in Washington, DC, including, controversially, at the White House.

“We’re a really good fit for that, for the simple fact that we’ve been under Republican conservative governance for a long time now,” Jorgensen said, noting Utah’s economic growth and low unemployment rate. “These things don’t happen by accident. I think the RNC is really starting to take notice, even as the states around us turn really blue.

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