Sanpete joins rural voters nationwide in support for Trump
By Suzanne Dean
In defiance of a lot of national figures who have opposed Donald Trump, and in spite of the president’s bombastic style, rural voters across America voted for him overwhelmingly during the election that concluded Tuesday.
If anything, Sanpete County voters were at the head of the pack.
They gave him 9,709 votes, compared to 1,673 for Biden. That’s 82.5 percent to 14 percent.
In fact, possibly because some voters showed up solely to vote for Trump and ignored the rest of the ballot, the president got more votes in the county than favorite son Spencer Cox got in his race for governor.
Unofficial results in Sanpete County suggested voters like Trump better after four years than they did in 2016, when he touted himself as a businessman who wasn’t like the other Washington politicians.
In 2016, Trump got 6,673 votes in the county, more than 3,000 less than on
Tuesday. That year, Evan McMullin, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who ran as an alternative to Trump, got 2,000 votes. The only logical conclusion is that many people who voted for McMullin in 2016 switched to Trump in 2020.
Steve Clark, Sanpete County Republican chairman, said he was pleased to see Trump and Cox get more than 9,000 votes in Sanpete County, even though there are about 6,000 registered Republican in the county.
“It shows we got a substantial percentage of the independents as well,” he said.
The election seemed to reflect social, cultural and economic schisms throughout America: black vs. white, urban vs. rural, young vs. old, blue collar vs. college graduates and devoutly religious vs. non-religious.
Unofficial returns as of Wednesday morning showed Trump with 58 percent and Biden with 38 percent statewide. But in Salt Lake County, Biden was defeating Trump, 57 percent to 40 percent.
Clark agreed that “there’s a huge disparity between rural and urban areas” in Utah and the nation. “You may not like what I’m going to say, but there’s a culture in urban areas, a ‘gimme’ culture that does not have the same ethos, the same kind of independence you find in rural areas.”
Clark believes people in urban areas often act “the opposite of what John Kennedy said in his speech” when he admonished Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask instead what you can do for your country.”
“It is no surprise that Sanpete County went strongly for Donald Trump,” said Serenity Kimball, the county Democratic chairwoman.. ”A large number of rural folk prioritize issues such as gun rights and limits to abortion, issues which have been oversimplified and reduced to “for” or “against” when really the debates should involve much more nuanced discussions.
“For example, I am not pro-abortion, I just believe (along with a lot of other folks) the evidence indicating that providing better sex education and easier access to contraception are more effective at reducing abortions than restrictive abortion bans.
She also asked people to respect the election process. “I would like to please, please ask that everyone remain civil and allow the election process, established by law, to work itself out.
“Both parties have lawyers and representatives checking and double-checking to make sure that the results are valid. I will accept a Trump win. I hope that his supporters will accept a Biden win if that is how the chips fall.
“We should not want to rush the process,” she added. “Many of the states on the line were not even permitted (by law) to begin counting mail-in ballots until after the polls closed last night. This is part of the process, and was expected and not a sign of anything nefarious.”
In other top races, Spencer Cox of Fairview, the Republican candidate for governor, easily defeated Democrat Chris Peterson.
In the state as a whole, unofficial returns as of Wednesday showed him with 654,505, 64 percent, to 315,575, or 31 percent for Peterson. In Sanpete County, Cox got 9,619 votes, 82 percent, compared to 934, or 8 percent for Peterson.
The campaign between Cox and Peterson, who are both attorneys, was characterized by congenial, policy-oriented debates. Perhaps the highlight was a joint public service announcement in which both said the fact that they were running against each other didn’t mean they needed to hate each other or couldn’t exchange views civilly.
The video went viral, prompting Brian Williams, anchor at MSNBC, to refer to the song, “We need a little Christmas” and say that the whole country “needed a little Utah.”
In remarks after the outcome became apparent, Cox emphasized unity. “My fellow Utahns, I promise you I’m not the governor of the Republican Party,” he said. “I’m the governor of the state of Utah. And that means all of us.”
He said his family would move to the governor’s mansion in Salt Lake City but come home to Fairview on weekends.
In the Utah attorney general’s race, Republican Sean Reyes defeated Greg Skordas, 61 percent to 34 percent with about 5 percent going to a third-party candidate.
Consistent with the pattern of Republican candidates running stronger in Sanpete County than statewide, Reyes got 82 percent here in the county to 13.5 percent for Skordas.
Skordas said he realized his candidacy was a long shot in Utah, but he ran because he wanted to give voters a choice.
In the two other top-of-ticket races, Chris Stewart, an incumbent Republican, easily defeated Democrat Kael Weston, a former U.S. State Department diplomat, in Congressional District 2, which takes in Sanpete County south of Pigeon Hollow Junction.
As of Wednesday, Stewart had 168,389 votes in the district as a whole compared to 94,229 for Weston. That translated to 62 percent for Stewart and 34.5 percent for his opponent.
In Sanpete County, the margin for Stewart, who emphasizes his military background and fiscal conservatism, was a lot bigger. Unofficial returns gave him 4,899 votes, or 85 percent, compared to Weston with 668, which was a little under 12 percent.
In Congressional District 4, which covers Sanpete County north of Pigeon Hollow, the outcome wasn’t as clear cut.
In the district as a whole, which includes large swaths of Salt Lake County, McAdams was leading Burgess Owens, a former NFL football player and vocal Trump supporter, 49.5 to 46 percent..
McAdams had 109,880 votes to 102,115 for Owens. As of early Wednesday morning, neither candidate had declared victory, and Fox 13 described the race as “too close to call.”