Sanpete shows its Republican stripes in election
MANTI—It’s no secret that Sanpete County is dominantly Republican.
So it’s not surprising that Sanpete voters gave top-of-ticket Republicans a higher percentage of votes than the same candidates got in Utah as a whole.
Another characteristic of Sanpete voters is that they turn out, especially in general elections. In the election concluded yesterday and based on unofficial returns, 9,418 local residents voted out of the 11,661 who were registered. That translated to nearly an 81 percent turnout, the highest in a general election since 1980.
“That’s very impressive and very commendable,” Troy Shelley, Sanpete County Republican chairman, said Tuesday night as the returns came in. “That means people took their opportunity to vote seriously.”
In the presidential race, where the outcome contradicted nearly all of the polls and stunned the political establishment, Hillary Clinton got 47.8 percent and Donald Trump got 47.3 percent of the popular vote nationwide.
But unexpected Trump wins in battleground states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin gave him an Electoral College majority. Trump ended up with 290 electoral votes to 232 for Clinton.
In Utah as a whole, it was Trump 46 percent and Clinton 28 percent. Evan McMullin fell short of expectations and got just 21 percent, while Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3 percent.
But in Sanpete County, and again based on unofficial returns, Trump won by a virtual landslide. He got just over 6,000 of the 9,400 votes cast, which translated to 65 percent, while Clinton got 10.5 percent. McMullin got 20 percent and Gary Johnson just under 2 percent.
Shelley was candid in saying there “was not a really great candidate in the race.” But, he said, the important thing is that all the players in the government function within the Constitutions and the laws. If they do, “they will keep the presidency in check, and we’ll be okay.”
In other statewide races, the magic number in Sanpete seemed to be 85 percent, a figure that certainly qualifies as a landslide.
In Utah as a whole, Mike Lee, a Republican was elected to his second term in the U.S. Senate with 68 percent of the vote. In Sanpete, he got 85 percent.
Democrat Misty Snow got 27 percent statewide and 11 percent in Sanpete County.
Gov. Gary Herbert was elected to what was essentially a third term with 67 percent of the vote in Utah as a whole. But the governor, who has visited Sanpete County regularly and who made a well publicized stop in Manti during the campaign, got 85 percent locally.
Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz got 29 percent statewide and 10 percent in Sanpete.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Chris Stewart was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote district-wide. But he got 85 percent in Sanpete.
Democratic challenger Charlene Albarran got 33 percent in the district as a whole, a better margin than most other top-of-ticket Democrats. In Sanpete, despite making campaign stops here, she got just under 10 percent.
The only top-of-ticket race where there was any serious competition was the Mia Love-Doug Owens race in the 4th Congressional District.
In the district as a whole, Love got 53 percent and Owens 42 percent, with the balance of votes going to a Constitution Party candidate. But in Sanpete, Love got 74 percent to only 20 percent for Owens.
Utah Sen. Ralph Okerlund, who stepped out early to support Trump, was unopposed for his third term. He didn’t even have any minor-party opposition. He got 7,800 “courtesy” votes from the Sanpete electorate and nearly 32,000 from voters in his whole Senate district.
Likewise, Derrin Owens of Fountain Green, was unopposed in his first run for the Utah House of Representatives. (He served during the last session after he was appointed to fill a vacancy). He got just under 8,100 votes in the county and 11,400 districtwide.
A small slice of territory on the south end of Sanpete County, including Axtell, is in a House District 70. The district also includes Sevier, Emery and part of Grand County.
In that race, Carl Albrecht, a Republican and former executive with Garkane Energy, defeated William J. Groff, a small business owner from Moab.
Albrecht got 78 pecent of the vote district wide to Groff’s 22 percent. In Sanpete, only 148 votes were cast in the race, but Albrecht got 85 percent of them, while Groff got 15 percent.