This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah Republicans handed Ted Cruz an landslide victory Tuesday, with caucusgoers choosing the Texas senator as either their favorite to represent the party in November or, in many cases, the best chance to keep Donald Trump from playing that role.
Polls showed Cruz with a healthy lead heading into Tuesday's balloting, but the question that remained late Tuesday with ballots still being counted was whether he could win more than half the vote he needs to take all 40 of the state's GOP delegates.
By 6 a.m. Wednesday, that question was answered resoundingly: Cruz had claimed 69.2 percent of the vote, with 85 percent of the princincts counted, to claim all 40 of the state's GOP delegates. Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 16.9 percent and Trump with 14 percent came away with nothing from Beehive State Republicans.
Cruz rode into Utah's caucuses on a wave of Republican establishment support and bitter disdain for the Republican front-runner, Trump.
Cruz landed the endorsement Friday of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney who remains wildly popular in Utah and added the backing Monday of Gov. Gary Herbert. Romney urged Utahns to back the Texas senator because it was the best opportunity to stop "Trumpism," as he called it.
Mitt Romney did not attend his caucus Tuesday night, but his son, Josh, cast an absentee ballot and reiterated to caucusgoers in his Holladay precinct that "If we have any hope to stop Trump, any hope at all, you have to vote for Ted Cruz."
"The impact of the presidency on the morality of the nation matters, and the thought of having to explain to my children someday that I voted for that man [Trump] is enough to make me shudder," Josh Romney said. "He is a man who reacts first and thinks second. … To have someone in that position who reacts that quickly and not thinking, that's very dangerous."
While he said he respects Kasich, Romney told attendees that "a vote for Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump, unfortunately."
And the anti-Trump sentiment was prevailing at caucuses across the Salt Lake Valley.
Kortney Wall said she would have voted for Kasich at her caucus at Salt Lake City's East High School, but ended up backing Cruz to stop Trump.
"I don't like [Trump's] temper or demeanor. For me, personally, it scares me to see the riots that are already happening," she said. "And seeing that on a world level, for me, is not something I want. Anything is better than Trump or [Democratic front-runner Hillary] Clinton. Not that I think Cruz has a chance against Clinton, but I'm doing what I can."
Trump did win the Arizona primary, also held Tuesday, and that state's 58 delegates.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said the only question remaining in the election is whether Trump can get the 1,237 delegates he needs to capture the nomination before the party's convention in July. Right now, Sabato said, he looks like he will end up somewhere between 1,100 and 1,300.
"We are already at the point where every delegate matters," Sabato said, "so Utah's 40 are nothing to sneeze at."
Salt Lake City resident Dorothy Carter said she was fully behind Cruz from the outset because he is a "constitutional conservative."
"He's like [Utah Sen.] Mike Lee," she said. "He tells you what he's going to do and does it, unlike a lot of politicians that get to D.C. and are bought by special interests."
In Layton, the former chairwoman of the Davis County Republican Party, Shirley Bouwhuis, said Utahns oppose Trump for moral reasons.
"He's cheater," she said. "He's womanizer and he's proud of it."
Utah Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who is a Trump supporter, did not defend the candidate during his caucus meeting and would not say if he voted for or still supports Trump. Whoever is the Republican nominee will win Utah, he predicted.
"People are going be so scared of Hillary or Sanders," he said, "they will rush to the polls to vote against them."
Draper residents Andy and DanaLee Bingham were split in their support for Kasich and Cruz, respectively, but they agreed on their opposition to Trump.
"He just doesn't seem presidential," DanaLee Bingham said. "His behavior is not becoming of the office."
Karl Bringhurst said he was "not loving any of them," but ultimately backed Cruz and would like to see Trump fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination.
"[Trump's] rhetoric is scary to me, just the anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, just the angry rhetoric, I don't like it," Bringhurst said. "I also like the idea of a brokered convention. [It's] really exciting. It's almost like 'House of Cards' type stuff."
Layton resident Gerald Everett was also no fan of Trump.
"The only reason Donald Trump is in this election is to make us [Republicans] look bad," he said. "I don't know of anyone else who could make our party look like idiots."
Benjamin Wood, Michael Anderson and Bob Mims contributed to this report