Utah’s political clout unchanged despite presidential candidate visits

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Kayla Goodson
Large crowds cheered as presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders joked, “Someone told me Utah is a Republican state. It doesn’t look that way this afternoon!”

Utahns flocked to rallies for four presidential candidates over the weekend leading up to the March 22 caucus, but the state’s political clout remains unchanged.

BYU political science professor Adam Brown said that while having so many presidential candidates come to the state at the same time is unusual and exciting, it doesn’t indicate a change of Utah’s political campaign importance.

“If there had been any other states’ caucus this week that had more votes, they might not have come here,” Brown said.

John Locher
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Friday, March 18, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Brown said the candidates faced a “slow week” in their campaigns to their respective party’s presidential nomination. Utah, which carries a total of 40 GOP and 37 Democratic delegates, shared the week with Arizona , which bares 58 GOP and 85 Democratic delegates.

Utah, Brown said, is not exercising unusually greater influence on the presidential race.

Sanders’ rally at This is the Place Heritage Park on Friday, March 18, attracted an estimated 14,000 attendees who came to hear Sanders’ self-proclaimed “radical” policies if elected. Sanders pointed out how little credence his campaign was given early on, yet it has endured to provide a challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination.

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at a town hall event at Utah Valley University, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Orem, Utah. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at a town hall event at Utah Valley University, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Orem, Utah. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Sanders made another stop in Utah on Monday. March 21 at West High School in Salt Lake City.

Businessman and GOP front-runner Donald Trump rallied at the Infinity Event Center on March 18 in downtown Salt Lake City. The rally attracted hundreds of supporters and protesters that squared off on the street Friday night. The protesters were, in part, a merger of protests organized by the Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Utah and the Latinos of Utah. Salt Lake City police preemptively donned riot gear. However, no one was arrested and no other major issues followed to the fray, according to Salt Lake police.

John Kasich undertook a small speaking tour in northern Utah, stopping at Utah Valley University, the University of Utah and Davis High School on March 18. He railed against Trump for “playing games with (The Republican Party)” and vowed to destroy ISIS through an Arab-Western partnership.

(Jessica Coombs)
Texas senator Ted Cruz held rallies at the American Prep Academy in Draper and Provo High School on March 19.

“I like to live on the peaks. I don’t like to live in the valley of American politics,” Kasich said.

Texas senator Ted Cruz held rallies at the American Prep Academy in Draper and Provo High School on March 19 where he stumped for his campaign and endorsed Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s reelection campaign. The rallies featured tech executive and former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and radio personality Glenn Beck.

Cruz promised to protect the Constitution and warned that “(a) vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.”

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