Utah Midterm Ends in Republican Landslide


(Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

(Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)
(Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Tuesday’s midterm election in Utah included some upsets, some historical firsts and some anticipated wins.
Perhaps the most talked about race was for Utah’s 4th Congressional District between Mia Love and Doug Owens. Love won with slightly more than 50 percent of the popular vote. She is now the first black republican woman in U.S. Congress.
Matthew Burbank, a political science professor at the U, said Love’s win will secure another seat in the republican majority in Congress, but likely won’t change aspects of Utah’s education system in the short term.
“As far as education, there will not be an immediate or big impact,” he said. “She won’t shift the public education system.”
Burbank said Love is an example of why college students should vote because any legislation she drafts about loans will directly affect them.
“Federal student loan programs are now the problem,” he said. “Some republicans, such as Love, would like to get rid of the program or make the program private. The issue with making federal student loans private is that they will cost more, and, for many students, it is difficult enough to make enough money for school, food and rent.”
However, Burbank said he is not incredibly concerned.
“I don’t think it will happen because as a country or state we wouldn’t save that much money, so there isn’t much incentive,” he said.
MaKea Kelly, a freshman in business, was excited to vote in midterm elections because this was the first year she was eligible.
“I am now at the age where I can exercise my constitutional right as an American citizen to vote and have a say in who takes part in running my country,” she said.
Kelly said she is “pleased” Love was elected into office, but hopes she commits to her platform.
“I am still skeptical because now we have to wait and see if she will stand by what she said,” she said. “She is a politician after all.”
Incumbent Chris Stewart (R-Utah) secured his re-election with another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives over his opponent state Sen. Luz Robles (D-Salt Lake) with 60.36 percent of the popular vote. Mark Button, a political science professor at the U, said republicans winning national re-elections like Stewart’s secured a “major victory” for the party.
“The republicans have a lot to work out amongst their own party,” Button said. “They need to decide if they can govern.”
Representatives Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) likewise retained their positions in U.S. Congress. Republicans also maintained control of the Salt Lake County Council. Democrats re-elected on Tuesday included Sim Gill as district attorney and Jim Winder as Salt Lake County sheriff.
At the statewide level, Sean Reyes was formally elected as attorney general over democrat Charles Stormont, receiving 62.7 percent of the votes.
Burbank said the republican victories will make the 2016 presidential election interesting.
“I always tell my students you have to wait until after midterms to talk about presidency, but that time has arrived,” he said. “It is hard to tell exactly how things will play out. Republicans feel good . . . They have a large number of candidates who are options for the president spot, whereas right now it looks like the democrats have Hillary Clinton or nothing. But two years is a long time in politics.”
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