So that happened. Mitt Romney, whom everyone pretty much thought would waltz to the GOP nomination in Utah. Democrats have little chance to win retiring Senator Orrin Hatch’s seat, so the only intrigue was…well, little intrigue existed. Everyone saw Romney as the heir apparent.
Romney may still likely win the GOP nomination, but he’s going to have to do it by winning a primary race:
After a wild and raucous day of voting at the Utah GOP convention, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee was unable to win the 60% that he needed to head to the November ballot unopposed. When none of the 12 candidates were able to cross that threshold, the party continued with successive rounds of caucus voting until one candidate reached 40%.
On the second round of voting, Utah state representative Mike Kennedy emerged in the lead with 50.88%. Romney came in a close second with 49.12%.
Utah doesn’t have the simplest of nomination processes, but that’s by design. In a standard primary process, the nominee with the deep pockets and backing of party leaders nearly assures one of a nomination. Utah makes the candidates work to get the nomination.
Naturally, Trump supporters exist that do not like Mitt:
“(Romney) did everything he could — probably more than any man in America — to get Hillary Clinton elected,” said Ken Welch, a 54-year-old Salt Lake City Republican who stopped delegates in the hallway outside the stands at the Maverik Center arena (where delegates were voting) urging them to oppose Romney.
“He had national news conferences, and spoke on Fox News, to announce that Donald Trump was a fraud, he was a lousy business man. He’s a ‘Never Trumper,'” said Welch, an insurance salesman (who added that he would support any other US Senate candidates). “If he would have succeeded in bringing down Donald Trump, we most likely would have ended up with Hillary Clinton.”
Romney’s opponent, Mike Kennedy, spent most of the time at the convention praising Donald Trump. That could account in part, for his better-than-expected showing.
Mitt will likely prevail in the end, but now he will have to do some work before dispatching whatever poor soul the Democrats put up to run against him.