This week’s question: The Republican and Democratic national conventions are coming up fast. How do you think they will turn out (coup? revolt?), and will the parties be unified post-convention, ready for a classic general election?
Steve Kroes, president, Utah Foundation. I see that by procrastinating my reply, I have the benefit of this morning’s news that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton next Tuesday. With that added knowledge, I feel pretty confident that the Democratic convention will build some unity. It certainly doesn’t look like a coup is brewing, and we’ll probably see several noteworthy concessions hammered out with the party and the Clinton campaign to secure Sanders’ cooperation. Maybe something on trade, maybe some distancing from Wall Street, and probably one of the items in this morning’s news – a plan to reduce college expenses for students.
On the Republican side, I don’t see a coup, but there sure is continuing discord! With Donald Trump basically chest-thumping Senator Jeff Flake and other hesitant Republican members of Congress in his so-called consensus-building meetings, I’m amazed at how incapable he is at toning down his bully instincts. Animosity toward Clinton is really the main unifying force for Republicans at this point. Trump isn’t going to prove himself capable of transforming into a party unifier, so I suspect the party will focus on an anti-Clinton message to rally the faithful. And it will work pretty well. I think Trump’s biggest threat (besides his belligerent temperament) is the percentage of votes that will go to the Libertarian ticket this year.
Theresa Foxley, attorney and deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. On the R side, I don’t expect that an offensive, impulsive, boor without a consistent philosophy on governance will be able to unify the party, let alone the country. However, Donald Trump will walk away with the nomination despite attempts to free the delegates. If this were a Netflix drama, I would be watching gleefully. Sadly, it’s not, and we will be left dealing with a candidate who makes Francis Underwood look like a veritable boy scout.
On the D side, look for a Bernie endorsement of Hillary and other overtures of unification. While I always expected Hillary to be her party’s nominee in this election cycle, I did not expect there to be so much discontent within the Democratic party … some of that discontent will spill over into the general.
My impression is that Hillary’s nomination will leave many Utah Democrats with a “hold your nose and vote” candidate. Republicans will have an even less attractive set of choices: Trump, stay home/no vote, third party/spoiler, or write-in. The down ballot consequences could be interesting, but I suspect that Utah voters will be enthusiastic about supporting Governor Herbert and the congressional delegation.
Mark Bouchard, education reformer and senior managing director, Southwest Region, CBRE Utah. I think the popular sentiment suggests emotions will run high in the conventions, particularly on the Republican side. Like most things in life, when emotions are high anything is possible in both in word and deed. Mr. Trump is a polarizing figure and has drawn out more raw emotion from voters than anyone in recent history. He also won the Republican campaign fair and square, whether you agree with him or not. It would seem a little disingenuous to somehow change the rules because mainstream Republicans don’t want him. Interestingly enough, we don’t view it as changing the rules as much as a creative resolution to a problem. My instincts suggest there will be a lot of negotiating, but in the final analysis, Mr. Trump will prevail.
The Democrats are much less interesting this year with the main issue being whether Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton can come together, or perhaps more important whether their voters can unify. Again, my instincts suggest that the Democrats as a party are much more unified in defeating Mr. Trump at this point and will stay focused during the convention.
My crystal ball suggests that despite everything that has occurred in both parties, in the final analysis, Mrs. Clinton will sweep into the White House as the first female president of the United States. America is simply not ready for someone with Mr. Trump’s proclivity to say whatever comes to mind without considering the broader consequences. This being said Mr. Trump has likely changed the landscape of American politics.
Todd Weiler, state senator and former vice-chair, Utah State Republican Party. I think there will be efforts at both conventions to undermine the respective presumptive nominees. But those efforts will fail. Neither party will be united. Both will be divided and be pining for their alternative candidates of choice (Cruz and Sanders).
Nolan Karras, former Utah House speaker, candidate for governor, and education reformer. The Democratic convention will be the same old stuff — and boring. I suspect the Republican convention will be interesting, as Trump has so indicated, but at the end of the day, we will all be tired of him and his family. No revolt — too late. The Democrats will be united and the Republicans less so, with Libertarian candidates winning a higher percentage of votes than usual.