Summit County gets its say in presidential politics on Tuesday
March 18, 2016
Summit County political figures anticipate extraordinary turnout at Tuesday’s caucuses as Democrats and Republicans cast ballots in the state’s presidential nominating contests, indicating the electricity from the White House campaigns will stretch to the gathering sites in Park City and on the East Side.
The Summit County Democrats and Republicans have packed agendas on the night of the caucuses, but the presidential voting, it appears, will overshadow the other business of the night. The leaders of the county parties said the number of people attending the caucuses will probably beat by wide margins the turnout in 2012, the most recent presidential-election year. In that year, the presidential primaries in Utah were held in June, well after the Republican nomination had been decided.
They say the presidential candidates this year are not yet certain even as Donald Trump leads the Republican contest and Hillary Clinton has control of the Democratic balloting. There remains widespread interest in casting a ballot for a presidential candidate on Tuesday, they say.
"We’re expecting a very large crowd because the Democratic race is not settled yet," said Glenn Wright, the chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, adding that the campaign between Clinton and Bernie Sanders could result in "enormous turnout."
Wright said he expects more than 500 people will gather at the Park City-area caucus and up to 1,000 people will gather between each of the three sites. He said the number could possibly double the turnout in 2012. He said people at the caucuses will have a "direct say in who our next president is."
"Their vote is going to count this year," Wright said, describing that the caucus-goers in Utah will have a "direct say in who our next president is."
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Wright said surrogates for Clinton and Sanders will attend the Park City gathering and, possibly, the ones on the East Side.
The leader of the Republicans in Summit County, Tal Adair, said the Republican caucuses in the county in 2012 drew approximately 500 people. The GOP presidential contest this year could increase the numbers to between 1,500 and 2,000 people in Summit County, Adair said. He based the projection on "what we’ve seen across the nation" in other nominating contests.
"People of Utah . . . have an opportunity to vote for president, and it means something." Adair said. "That’s a great thing for Utahns and it excites people to get involved."
He said surrogates from the campaigns of Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are anticipated to attend the caucuses in Park City and on the East Side.
The nominating contests have drawn interest in Park City and surrounding Summit County, and there was a hope that some of the Republican candidates would make a local campaign stop as a planned GOP debate in Salt Lake City neared. The debate was canceled, though. The candidates who stumped in Utah did not make a local stop.
Summit County Republicans in 2012 and 2008 overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney in the presidential primaries. In 2008, voters in Summit County picked Barack Obama in the primary.