This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Cleveland • Utah's Republicans offered their votes to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday night as part of the GOP national convention roll call of states but because of an interpretation by national party officials, all 40 ballots instead went to Donald Trump.
"There are members of our delegation that don't agree with that interpretation," a frustrated Sen. Mike Lee told reporters after the vote counters announced Utah was all in for Trump. "If you were me, I don't think you'd necessarily be ecstatic about it."
The Utah delegates, however, were largely resigned to the party's decision even if the chairman of the group, Phill Wright, wouldn't give in when the floor was his. He declared that all Utah votes would go "to the gentleman who won our state, Senator Ted Cruz."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus later took the stage to explain to the audience why four states voting for other candidates were nevertheless recorded as backing Trump. A party rule says delegates' votes only can be counted for a candidate still in the race and Trump was the only one left. That drew cheers from the mostly pro-Trump audience.
Wright, the state Republican Party vice chairman who was Cruz's Utah chairman, said there was a "discrepancy" in how the rules were understood by the national party, but he said he was moving on.
"We will support our nominee. Our nominee is Donald Trump," Wright said. "We do not want Hillary Clinton to be the next president. The state of Utah will give an overwhelming majority of our votes to Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States."
In the middle of the awkward roll-call moment, Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans proclaimed that Trump would win his biggest margin of victory in Utah, a state that is Republican "forever."
That seemed like an overly optimistic prediction during a week when the state's delegation repeatedly showed its dissatisfaction with the bombastic real-estate developer and reality TV star and in light of polls that show Trump with only a small lead over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Bruce Hough, Utah's Republican national committeeman, compared Utah's GOP delegates to a cranky uncle at Thanksgiving complaining about the lack of white meat on the turkey.
"Let's be thankful for the turkey we got, and there's not another turkey in the oven, so this is where we are," he said. "Was Donald Trump my first choice? No, but at this stage of the game he is our party's nominee and I'm going to support him."