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Find KUER's reporting on the races, candidates and more for Utah’s 2018 midterm elections. Click here for our graphics of the U.S. Senate race, 4 Congressional races and Utah ballot initiatives.

Hoping To Stave Off A 'Blue Wave' In Utah, Mitt Romney Campaigns For Other Republicans

Photo of Mitt Romney at phone bank.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

With a comfortable lead in the race to be the next U.S. senator from Utah, Mitt Romney is using his name recognition — and significant campaign war chest — to get out the vote for other Republicans.

Last week, the former GOP presidential nominee stumped in Arizona for U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in her bid for a Senate seat. This week, Romney was back in Utah hoping to boost local Republicans in November.

The 71-year-old senate candidate, who is vying to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, is hosting several phone banks this week for Republicans running for legislative and county-level seats. On Monday night, 20 GOP candidates in Salt Lake County attended with their own teams of volunteers to contact voters and urge them to vote Republican.

In the past two months, Romney has canvassed and campaigned with a handful of other Republicans across the state. Earlier this week he appeared in a television ad to endorse Rep. Mia Love, who is in a tight race with challenger Ben McAdams, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County.

 

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Romney himself made several phone calls to voters Monday night, asking them to fill out and return their mail-in ballots as soon as possible. “If you’re inclined to vote for Republicans, please vote for all of us,” he told one voter over the phone.

“I just want people to get out and vote. That, for me, is the big issue,” Romney said in an interview at the phone bank. “Whether I win or other people win, the key thing is that we show that we are a democracy which chooses those that will represent us.”

GOP candidates like Alan Monsen, a former Republican National Committee staffer who is seeking a seat in the state Senate, hope to benefit from Romney’s help this cycle.

“There’s a lot going on on the ballot this year. I’m hoping the turnout does well,” said Monsen, who admits he faces an uphill battle in a blue area of Salt Lake County against incumbent Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay.

“Obviously, I’m more down-ballot, but it’s really making sure those voters can have their say,” he said.

Anew Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll put Romney in a more than 30-point lead against Democratic opponent Jenny Wilson, a two-term Salt Lake County councilwoman.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in polls at this stage. As we get closer to the election, maybe they have more impact,” Romney said in reaction to the new polling. “But I’m happy to get the kind of response I’ve received so far.”

Some political observers say Democrats will likely win back the House this election cycle, which would make it harder for Republicans in Washington to carry out a full-throated GOP agenda. Romney said he doesn’t put much stock in those predictions, either.

“I think Republicans are going to do better in Washington – in the House and the Senate – than people expect,” he said. “In part because the economy is so strong and they recognize that the principles that Republicans have put in place have helped create a stronger economy.”

But should he win his senate seat, Romney said he plans to work with both sides, regardless of who is in the majority.

“You’ve got to work across the aisle if you want to do something that’s going to last beyond the next election,” he said.

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