Summit County Republicans suddenly have a Romney-Kennedy contest
Summit County Republicans suddenly have a high-profile campaign to follow in the spring and early summer.
The local party, which did not field candidates in the County Courthouse campaigns, will join the rest of the state’s Republicans in deciding the nominee in the U.S. Senate contest.
Neither Mitt Romney nor Mike Kennedy received enough support at the state GOP convention last weekend to secure the nomination, forcing the two into primary election in June. The winner in June will advance to the November ballot against the candidate who emerges from the Democratic Party.
Romney is a former governor of Massachusetts, led the organizing committee that put on the 2002 Winter Olympics and was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. Kennedy is a state legislator.
The Summit County Republicans will spend nearly two months weighing the candidates, deciding whether they want the high-level, out-of-state political experience of Romney or the Utah public service of Kennedy.
Romney has proven popular in Park City and surrounding Summit County during his White House bids and has longtime ties to Park City. Kennedy is not nearly as well known in the Park City area.
“It leaves the party in good shape,” Brantley Eason, the chair of the Summit County Republican Party, said about the contest between Romney and Kennedy, adding, “We’ve got two really good candidates.”
Eason was a delegate at the state convention but declined to disclose which candidate he voted for in the balloting last weekend. He said it is unclear which of the candidates will win Summit County in the primary, projecting the results could be close locally. The Summit County party intends to remain neutral until the nominee is decided.
Eason said both Romney and Kennedy stopped in Summit County as the convention approached. He said he hopes the two make campaign stops in the county during the primary season as well. Eason said he wants the candidates to address issues like land policies, taxes and the budget. He is “excited to hear what they have to say to the general public.”
Another Republican delegate to the state convention last weekend, Tal Adair, also declined to disclose which candidate received his vote. Adair was the chair of the Republican Party in Summit County for four years ending in 2017.
“It’s an exciting time, so people can hear the different opinions,” Adair said about the primary season, predicting the two candidates will be “vetted out” by Republicans.
Adair wants Romney and Kennedy to address issues like the national debt, the strength of the military and maintaining the strong economy in the state. He also said he wants the two candidates to address issues of importance to urban areas in Utah as well as rural ones.
“This allows for the candidates to stump and get their message out and resonate for the citizens of Utah,” Adair said.
Adair said he hopes the contest for the Senate nomination energizes the Summit County Republicans. The local GOP has said the party is excited even without County Courthouse candidates. He also said the Republicans will rally behind the eventual nominee and the winner of the Romney-Kennedy contest will be the victor in November.
“They’re two great, strong Republican candidates. They’re very knowledgeable,” he said.
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Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson has decried what she called a lenient sentence in a child sex abuse case in which a 20-year-old reportedly attempted to impregnate a 12-year-old. The perpetrator was sentenced to 20 days in jail and 10 years of probation.