Mitt Romney will become Utah’s newest senator, defeating Democrat Jenny Wilson for the seat of outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m., the Associated Press projected that Romney, the Republican, had earned 56 percent of the vote to Wilson’s 38 percent, according to The New York Times.
The preliminary results show Romney at 62 percent, and Wilson at 31 percent.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that cheers and applause erupted at Romney’s campaign headquarters in Orem shortly after polls closed and national media outlets projected a win for the former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate.
Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Brigham Young University graduate, won the Republican primary earlier this year in an effort to replace long-time conservative Orrin Hatch, who has held the U.S. Senate seat since 1977.
Wilson, a former Salt Lake County council member, put forward a hard and steady campaign, but fell short by the end of Election Day. Romney began the day with seemingly overwhelming support, according to several national and local polls.
In her concession speech, Wilson asked that Romney “not forget about us,” and that she was ending her campaign on a high note.
“Thank you Utah, and remember that we are not done,” says Wilson.
Big issues on the national stage – including immigration, healthcare and the attitude towards the Trump Administration – were expected to send voters to the polls. Local issues of significant importance included Proposition 2 (which would legalize medical marijuana), the battle over public lands, the environment and the opioid epidemic.
Here is where Wilson and Romney stood on these issues:
Unlike many other issues, Romney and Wilson both have fairly similar views on how the opioid crisis should be handled.
On her website, Wilson says she would “strongly support increasing federal funding for treatment and access to both lifesaving and treatment drugs.”
Romney says that a “multi-front approach” is needed to fight this epidemic. He says that he also supports funding for treatment, but also says that the U.S. needs to pressure other countries where the drugs are often coming from.
The debate over how to properly manage public lands will certainly influence many votes in Utah this year.
In the questionnaire, Wilson makes it clear that Wilson is for the federal protections that the Antiquities Act provides the national parks in the country.
“I oppose the idea of federal lands being managed by the state,” she says.
She also states she is fighting for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to be restored to their original boundaries.
Romney feels quite the opposite.
On his website, Romney says, “With two-thirds of Utah held as public land, it is my priority to obtain greater local and state involvement in decision-making and management of public lands.”
He further explains that more control to the state will eliminate “land grabs” by the federal government.
Energy and the environment
Romney and Wilson both say that they support clean energy, yet their ideas on how to get clean energy differ.
On his website, Romney says, “I support the utilization of all our energy resources including gas, coal, wind, nuclear, geothermal, hydro, and solar.” His website also mentions that he will “support greater efficiency standards in cars, trucks, and factories to reduce energy consumption and pollution.”
Wilson’s campaign website doesn’t mention the coal or oil industries, but does stress the need for alternative energy and for tighter regulations on industries that create pollution.
“I oppose President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement combating climate change,” she says on her website.
The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is not the only thing that Wilson opposes from the President. In the answered questionnaire, Wilson says “the policies of this administration do not reflect American – nor Utah – values.”
Though Romney has criticized President Trump in the past, he appears to agree with some of Trump’s actions and has a willingness to work well with the administration.
However, Romney firmly believes in state rights, saying, “States should guide their own policies regarding such matters as education, transportation, healthcare, care for the poor, and school safety.”