Romney skipped Kamas event, but Abraham Lincoln lookalike didn’t
April 18, 2018
Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for Senate who is widely seen as the frontrunner for the GOP's nomination, was not at the Summit County Republican Party convention on Tuesday evening.
But his Abraham Lincoln-lookalike opponent and other Republicans who are challenging for the GOP Senate nod were in attendance at South Summit High School in Kamas.
The Summit County Republicans rallied with the regalia befitting a political convention, but, like the recent county caucuses, it seemed subdued as a result of the local party not challenging the Democrats in County Courthouse contests.
The convention, though, provided an opportunity for the party faithful to listen to short stump speeches by state and federal candidates or their surrogates. The Senate campaign is of special note in 2018 with one of the nation's best-known Republicans, Romney, seeking the seat now held by the retiring Republican Orrin Hatch.
The other Republicans vying for the Senate nomination seem to acknowledge the prominence of Romney, but they say they have an opportunity to win the nomination anyway. Several of them spoke about their chances during interviews at the convention.
Brian Jenkins, an Orem man with a diverse professional background that includes investing and window cleaning, is one of the Republicans who wants the nomination. He drew attention on Tuesday as an Abraham Lincoln lookalike. Jenkins said he cannot match Romney's recognition or funding, but the Lincoln shtick could benefit his bid for the nomination.
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"I have to get my message out," he said, adding that voters are learning about him "because of the Lincoln exposure I'm getting."
Jenkins outlined a political strategy that calls for him capturing a bloc of potential Romney voters, people he said are moderate and progressive. He conceded, though, he needs assistance. He said Lincoln during the Civil War wanted help from above.
"You could say I'm going to need heavenly help to get past Romney," Jenkins said.
Sam Parker, another Republican who is competing for the Senate nomination, also appeared at the gathering on Tuesday, outlining in an interview a strategy to capture the spot on the ballot.
"You're not going to beat Mitt Romney with money," he said. "You have to play on a different game board. You have to change the rules of engagement."
Parker, a banker who lives in Millcreek, said he must tap members of the conservative Tea Party, backers of President Trump and people who support the constitutional right to bear arms to win the nomination. He said he must "unite the factions" of the Republican Party.
"You've got to find the groups that don't like him, bring them under the same tent. You have to light a fire under them," Parker said.
He said there is not as much excitement surrounding the Romney campaign as was expected and he hears "anti-Romney sentiment" on the campaign trail.
The convention, meanwhile, offered a platform for a slate of candidates on the state and federal levels. The Republican Party is not challenging in County Courthouse campaigns, but it has confidence in the Statehouse and congressional contests. The candidates on Tuesday offered short stump speeches that were heavy on traditional Republican positions. Several of the candidates, as an example, spoke about public lands and their desire that the federal government not intervene in issues they say should be decided at the state level.
Incumbent Republicans campaigning in Statehouse districts that cover parts of Summit County also addressed the convention.
Tim Quinn, who represents District 54 and is unchallenged for the GOP nomination, told the crowd he backs local control of government. He cited his opposition to legislation that would have overturned Park City's ban on razor-thin plastic bags. Quinn said he does not agree with the ban but Park City leaders have the right to enact such a prohibition. Quinn also said he will fight to keep state taxes low.
Logan Wilde, the District 53 representative who does not have a challenger within the party for the nomination, also noted his opposition to the legislation that would have overturned Park City's ban on plastic bags. He said cities and counties need to have the ability to govern their own communities.
There were no votes cast on candidates on Tuesday since there are not Republicans vying for County Courthouse posts.