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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 23, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 21Apr00

Summarized by Gregor McHardy

Do Utah Mormons Really Perfer Democrats?
Salt Lake Tribune 17Apr00 D4
By Glen Warchol: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- There is no doubt that the state of Utah's politics are very heavily weighted toward the conservative, Republican side. I mean, can a Mormon be a good Mormon AND a democrat?

Although that stance is beginning to slowly erode, the state remains a bastion of Republicanism. Yet, if you were to look in the hall of fame to see who sits enshrined in the political memory of Utahns, you won't find many Republicans there at all! The list would include, however, former governors Cal Rampton and Scott Matheson and former U.S. Sen. Frank Moss, former Congressman Wayne Owens and Salt Lake City's "Mayor Ted" Wilson.

Why the absence of GOP members in the pantheon? Some believe it might be a result of party structure. "Republicans have always had a more homogenous, top-down party structure," says Rod Julander, chairman of Weber State University's political science department and state Democratic vice chairman. "Perhaps the kind of people who make it to the top are filtered by that hierarchy."

But since the Democratic party is so small, those with more vivid characteristics are not weeded out by establishment, leaving memorable men to become the leaders. "These are people who had personalities . . . that people could relate to," says Dan Jones, chief pollster for Utah's Republicans. For example, "Scott [Matheson] was not afraid to say what he thought. He was always very direct in his opinions. Even when people disagreed with him, they knew he was being straight up with them and trying to do the right thing."

The only Republican who comes near joining the memorables is former governor Norm Bangerter. "Norm was a west-side kid -- down to earth -- not a silver-tongued politician," says Jake Garn. "People didn't feel he was sitting on some throne just because he was governor."


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