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In Utah's Trump Country, Supporters Express Impatience, Optimism

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Julia Ritchey, KUER
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After firing FBI Director James Comey last week, President Trump’s approval rating dipped to 39 percent. But among Trump voters — including those in Utah — many are unwavering in their support.

Jesse Fugal sat in the auditorium of Richfield High School on Friday night for Republican Congressman Chris Stewart’s town hall.

Wearing a cowboy hat and holding a gold-tipped cane, Fugal had two words for how he thinks President Trump is doing.

“I’m impressed,” he said.

Fugal, like many from Sevier County, said Trump is still getting his feet wet.

“But I’m impressed with the way he’s handled things, like he said, draining the swamp," said Fugal.

Sevier County is by every metric Trump country. Nearly 78 percent of the county’s voters pulled for him last November.

The Central Utah county has a population that is majority white, slightly older and overwhelmingly working class, a demographic group Trump has done well retaining.

Ralph Brown, a Sevier County Commissioner, said he thinks Trump’s agenda has been slowed by Democratic opposition.

“Personally, we think the only reason it’s not happening is they’re fighting against it," he said. "We’re positive about what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to do everything we elected him to do.”

Jerrilyn Davis, 83, hadn’t even heard about Trump’s latest controversy over the FBI director’s dismissal. She said Trump’s biggest obstacle is himself.

“Well, I think he’s doing pretty good, but he rushes through things a little fast and needs to study things out,” she said.

Of the seven questions posed to Rep. Stewart, two came from women who said they worried about Republican infighting and the GOP’s ability to coalesce around Trump’s agenda.

Stewart said he believes Congress is making progress but asked the crowd to be patient.

 

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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