The rise of Donald Trump may be giving the Republican establishment fits, but a couple of Utah legislators had no trouble jumping aboard the Trump Express.
Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, says he’s attracted to Trump’s anti-establishment attitude and the fact that he says what he thinks.
“I really think he has an opportunity to turn the country around,” says Okerlund. “He’s very forthright. He says some things that rub people the wrong way. He is who he is, and he’s not just saying what he thinks people want to hear.”
Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, says he’s attracted to Trump because he will help Utah push back against what he feels are onerous federal regulations.
“A lot of people don’t like his style, and there are some things you sorta wonder about,” says Adams. “Federal regulation is strangling this nation and Trump is someone who speaks to that. If we want someone who can push back on this regulation that is strangling us, Trump seems to be the person who can do that.”
Okerlund says he recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Donald Trump, Jr., who expressed an eagerness to help Utah with public lands issues.
“I think they understand how important it is for there to be a Congressional process rather than executive action on these lands issues. The EPA has overstepped on this. I think he (Trump) would be willing to say we’re going to do this the way it should be done with Congress giving direction on this.”
So far, Trump has not publicly said anything about public lands in Utah, nor has he talked much about reigning in federal agencies or programs except for a vow to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
Trump is currently the clear Republican frontrunner after notching easy wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
13 states and territories will cast ballots on “Super Tuesday,” with 1,034 delegates up for grabs.
Utah will vote for their presidential pick on March 22, a day after Trump and the remaining candidates debate in Salt Lake City. The latest UtahPolicy.com survey has Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz ahead of Trump among Utah Republicans.
Adams says there’s a sort of macho quality to Trump that many of his supporters find appealing.
“He seems to have the intestinal fortitude and drive to get something done. You don’t start and maintain a business without it. The private sector is not the easiest environment to deal with and be able to flourish in. He’s a proven commodity that has been very successful in getting things done, and I think we could use somebody like that in Washington.”
Okerlund agrees that Trump’s bravado is the reason so many people are getting behind his candidacy.
“No matter how much he’s attacked, he’s not intimidated by either individual attacks or by certain groups. He sticks up for American values.”