Barring a huge upset, Spencer Cox will be Utah’s next governor. Cox, now the lieutenant governor, won about half of Utah’s counties during the June 30 primary election and he defeated by nearly 10,000 votes Jon Huntsman, who handily won in Grand County.
Huntsman won a few other counties amid a huge push by Utah Democrats to temporarily change their political affiliation to Republican specifically so they could vote for Huntsman, whom they apparently consider more to their liking. While we in the newsroom considered Cox the frontrunner among the four Republican candidates in the primary, we also conceded Huntsman could win here as Grand County voters on any side of the aisle tend to march to the beat of a different drummer.
The fact that Cox’s 242 votes put him in a distant third behind Huntsman, who had 544 votes and Greg Hughes who had 489, was enough to pique our curiosity enough to ask out loud: Did a bunch of local Democrats change parties, if only for a minute?
Grand County Clerk-Auditor Quinn Hall said his office since March 1 registered 227 new Republican affiliations — a combination of newly registered voters affiliating with the Republican Party and any other voters changing affiliation from any other party to Republican.
Nearly 230 new registrations over a four-month period seems high regardless of affiliation, but according to Hall, that isn’t entirely true. The influx wasn’t that significant and it wasn’t Democrats changing parties.
The short answer he offered to our question was, “Yes. Kind of.” Hall said the influx of new Republican registrations was apparent, but it was “small,” and “certainly not the large shift some other counties might have seen. Just from being in the office and gauging phone calls and emails — with no hard math or numbers to back it up — it seems like a fair portion of those changes were from unaffiliated status to Republican.”
It is unclear what that might mean. Has presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden scared independent voters into the Republican camp?
Are the more liberal-leaning councils that are governing the City of Moab and Grand County losing support? Probably not enough to convince anyone to change parties. Both councils are nonpartisan, at least as far as the 2020 election is concerned and, in any event, there isn’t a whole lot of intrigue for this year’s county council election.
I suppose we’ll have to see if a couple hundred Republicans change their affiliation to some other party or as independents prior to November’s general election.
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When the pandemic shut down the economy and the federal government sent out $1,200 in relief checks to most Americans and 50 gazillion dollars in loans and grants to small businesses, I told my colleagues to keep an eye out for corruption.
I’m no cynic, but I’m paid to be skeptical and this revenue-depleting plan was rolled out in record time and with very little oversight.
Who could have possibly imagined big business and the wealthiest of the wealthy would apply for cash they didn’t need and unfairly compete with businesses that did need the help?
Republican and Democrat members of Congress. Members of the administration. Scores of lobbyists. The owners of car dealerships. White shoe law firms. Big casinos. Manufacturers. Many of them have not kept employees on the payroll. Many did not hire new employees.
Monday’s report from the Small Business Administration — which refused to comment on its own press release — came with no surprises, but it’s still disappointing.
I suspect this story will get legs and we’ll hear a lot more about this criminal behavior, and when we do, I hope the American people will stop turning every little controversy into a partisan issue and instead find common cause to join together against forces that consistently keep us divided while splitting the loot.