The Red Desert

 

While much of the West took on a blue hue last night, staunchly Republican Utah stuck to its guns. McCain won by 63 percent of the vote, making Utah his strongest supporter after Wyoming. Incumbent Republican governor John Huntsman ran away with 78 percent of the vote. Of the three Congressional races, incumbents won two. Rob Bishop (R) and Jim Matheson (D) were both shoe-ins. (Matheson, the son of former governor Scott Matheson, is known for being one of the most conservative dems in Congress.)

The third Congressional seat went to overwhelming favorite and far-right Republican Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz defeated six-term incumbent Chris Cannon in the primaries, largely through his uncompromising stance on immigration.

The only real upset in Utah was on the state level. Amtrak conductor Jay Seegmiller (D) finally managed to trounce incumbent Republican Speaker of the House Greg Curtis (R), after two previous attempts. (In 2006, the spread was only 20 votes.) The race was in Salt Lake County, Utah’s most metropolitan, and Seegmiller came away with 55 percent of the vote. Curtis’ popularity declined last year after he backed a controversial school voucher program that was resoundingly defeated by the electorate.

And in little Sevier County, Proposition 1 -- which stated that any new coal-fired power plants in the county must first be approved by voters in an election -- passed with flying colors. For the county, this means that an election will presumably be held over a proposed 270-megawatt coal-fired power plant. And on a larger scale, the vote could set a precedent for community-based land-use decisions in the West.