Voting Shows Division in Religion, Partisanship

Voting Shows Division in Religion, Partisanship


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John Hollenhorst ReportingRocky Anderson rode to victory in Salt Lake City last night, winning a second term as Mayor by a solid, if not overwhelming, margin. A close look at the vote offers some interesting insights into Salt Lake's political makeup.

The Mayor's win was convincing, but it revealed some interesting divisions in Salt Lake that show this city is quite a different place from much of the rest of Utah. The Mayor defeated a strong challenge from Frank Pignanelli by a somewhat wider margin than expected. It was 54 percent to 46 percent. Part of the reason seems to be that many Republicans decided to stay home.

Officially, this is supposed to be a non-partisan race. And in fact, both candidates are Democrats. But the Republicans who did vote lined up roughly 10 to 1 against Rocky Anderson. He also had a hard time winning votes from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That vote ran about 85-15 against Anderson. Still, Salt Lake is Democratic enough, and religiously diverse enough, that the Mayor came out a solid winner.

Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: "I'm very happy with the people of Salt Lake City. And for those who did not support my reelection, I want them to know that we're reaching out and will continue to reach out in every way and listen to everybody. Really we are all after the same things. It's just a matter of how we get there."

Republicans haven't prevailed citywide in Salt Lake since Jake Garn was mayor three decades ago. The republicans have had trouble finding strong candidates.

Joe Cannon, State Republican Chairman: "You need the right candidate. Has to be somebody who appeals to more moderate republicans, and you've got to get some democrats to vote for you also."

Republican City councilman Dave Buhler won a landslide reelection in his district. But citywide, he says, republicans have tough sledding.

Dave Buhler, Republican City Councilman: "I don't think anybody would win because they're a republican. They might win in spite of the fact they're a republican."

Anderson blames the Main Street Plaza issue for the voting divide found in religion.

"That transaction was a recipe for religious divisiveness."

And he blames a misreading of his own reach for diversity.

Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: "I think what's happened is that by reaching out to everybody, trying to include everyone, it's perceived by some members of the LDS church that I'm trying to exclude them. And that's not the case at all."

Buhler thinks the Mayor himself helped derive a wedge in the early days of the Main Street controversy.

Dave Buhler, Republican City Councilman: "For instance, there was a time when he suggested he was the only person with integrity, and that probably didn’t sit well with a lot of people."

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