Going into yesterday’s caucuses, the big question for many Utah Republicans was whether Ted Cruz would win all 40 of the state’s delegates. In the end, he did, thanks to a record number of caucus-goers who weighed in.
The anyone-but-Trump movement has been big in Utah. So enthusiasm for both supporting front runner Donald Trump and stopping him from leading the party’s ticket in November drove record numbers of Republicans to Tuesday’s presidential preference polls. Many were like the son of the GOP’s 2012 nominee for president, Mitt Romney.
Josh Romney urged his precinct in Holladay to choose Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over Ohio Gov. John Kasich to ensure Cruz a sweep of Utah’s Republican delegates and help him gain on the front runner.
“I assure you: He can be stopped,” Romney said. “He’s on his way to get the nomination. It’s gonna be close. We’ve got to do everything we can to stop him. And it starts here.”
Mainstream Republicans began touting Cruz last week as the best way to blunt Trump’s path to the nomination and win the White House. Getting more than half of the GOP caucus votes allows the winner to take all.
“I’m here because I don’t want Trump -- I don’t,” said Teryl Clark, who was unhappy with all of the party’s nominees. “I think he’s egocentric. No boundaries. No filter.”
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, one of the few prominent Utah politicians publicly backing Trump, said the billionaire candidate has energized Republicans. And he credited the switch from a June primary to March caucuses this year for making Utahns feel important.
“I’ll tell you what’s so exciting: In a 24-hour period, we had every candidate, with the exception of one, from both parties here to fight for the support and vote of Utahns,” he said. “What an historic time.”
At the caucus in Draper that Hughes attended, people lined up to register as Republicans so they could participate and precincts scrambled to get all the ballots they needed.