Will Donald Trump be a factor in Utah down ballot races this year? A Republican candidate in one of the most hotly contested legislative races isn’t worried.
Mike Winder, who is the GOP nominee in HD 30 says Donald Trump does come up on the campaign trail, but he’s convinced the GOP nominee won’t hurt other Republicans running in Utah this year.
“Some people are saying we’ve gotta get Trump in there and others who just shake their head at the whole disaster that the national political scene is,” says Winder. “I use that as an opportunity to say ‘I’m with you. I’m frustrated with what’s going on nationally, so let’s focus on the state and local government where we can work together and get some things solved and improve people’s lives’.”
Winder’s HD30 was decided by just 47 votes in 2014 when Rep. Fred Cox narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent. Winder wrested the nomination away from Cox this year at the GOP convention.
Donald Trump is very unpopular in Utah this year. Most polling shows he is leading, but only pulling around a third of the vote this year in Utah. Democrats are hoping that unpopularity will prompt many Republican voters to either stay home on election day or consider Democratic candidates. Winder says a bigger “wild card” this election is Salt Lake County mailing ballots to voters.
“I think the fact that ballots are being mailed out helps mitigate the Trump wildcard a little bit – people still want to vote for Governor or Senator and then while they’re at it, maybe their legislator. It’s a different dynamic.”
Winder also says he doesn’t think Trump’s presence on the ballot will hurt Republicans as much as people think because voters will look at the person, not the party.
“I think we overthink the coattail thing. Think about 2012 with Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket, Utah’s golden boy. Mia Love lost that year. Ben McAdams had a huge win that year over Mark Crockett. The whole idea of Mitt Romney’s coattails was nonexistent in Salt Lake County. I think the inverse is true. I don’t think Trump is going to have negative coattails or Hillary Clinton negative coattails.”
Winder says he’s not a fan of Donald Trump, but he plans on voting for the GOP candidate.
“I’m not a Trump fan. I came out big for Marco Rubio. At the end of the day, I don’t want to waste a vote, so I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton, so I’ll most likely vote for Mike Pence and the other guy on the ticket.”
But, what about independent candidate Evan McMullin, who is hoping he can pull support from voters who don’t want to cast a ballot for Trump? Winder says he’s not convinced.
“It’s kinda like being in a restaurant and you have to order liver or meatloaf because that’s what the chef is cooking. As much as I’d like to order lobster or crab, that has no chance of making it out of the kitchen, so you’re really down to the meatloaf or the liver. It ain’t pretty, but you have to make a choice cause you’re gonna be served something whether you like it or not.”