Sunday, June 19, 2016

Libertarians sense opportunity in Utah

Utah Republicans are sour on Trump, Libertarians sense opportunity - LA Times - Melanie Mason:

June 17, 2016 - "Utah is one of the handful of states where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson plans to focus his energies, hoping to capitalize on the revulsion against Trump felt by many ... conservative Mormons.

"Winning the state, or even getting a significant share of the vote, will hardly be easy for the Libertarians. But the very fact that they’re being seriously discussed  — Mitt Romney, the Republican’s 2012 nominee, who remains a highly popular figure here, recently said he would not rule out voting for the party — has Libertarian activists dreaming big.

"The party faces some serious hurdles: Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, remains unknown to many Utah voters, as he is nationwide. And while the party’s fiscally conservative platform may attract Republicans, its permissive social views on drugs, abortion and gay rights may turn off staunch conservatives.

"'On too many of the social issues, they go against the basic grain that conservatives in Utah want,' said Dave Hansen, a veteran GOP strategist. 'When you get to legalization of marijuana, that alone kills Gary Johnson here.'

"That may eventually prove true. For now, however, a poll released this week  by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah found 13% of voters backing Johnson while Clinton and Trump deadlocked at 35% apiece....

"The most visible face of Trump resistance is Romney’s. Last week, he reiterated his opposition, warning on CNN that Trump could inspire 'trickle-down racism' Romney also sounded open to the Libertarian ticket as an alternative, heaping praise on Johnson’s running mate Bill Weld, who, like Romney, served as a Republican governor in Massachusetts.

'I'll get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he's someone who I could end up voting for,' Romney said.

"Hamstrung by a lack of money and traditional political infrastructure, the Libertarians here are relying on media coverage and word of mouth to power their campaign. So Romney’s support could be an enormous boost; his mere mention of researching Johnson inspired Utahns to do the same."

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