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Crockett to Benefit from Mitt-Mania in SLCO Mayor's Race

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2012-07-10 -

He’s a no-nonsense, dollars-and-cents Republican with efficient, wholesome stake-president hair running for office. If you guessed either Mitt Romney or Republican Salt Lake County Mayor nominee Mark Crockett, you guessed correctly.

With a Tuesday recount in and Mark Crockett now officially clinching his party’s nomination for county mayor by 1,019 votes against his opponent, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, Crockett finally prepares for a fall showdown with Democratic nominee Ben McAdams.

McAdams, a wildly popular Democrat who works as a senior adviser to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and has had great success at the Legislature—for a Democrat—has had an advantage in the race, having defeated his fellow Senate colleague, Ross Romero, in the April convention.

But Crockett also has a huge advantage working in his favor—the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The first-ever member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be nominated for president by a major party understandably is wildly popular in the state, and his appearance on the ballot in the November general election is expected to help draw Republicans out to the polls in droves. In the June Primary, Romney clinched 93 percent of the vote among Utah Republicans.

It’s the Mitt-mania that can only help out the election of Crockett, (pictured), a Salt Lake County Council member who has campaigned on a very traditional fiscal conservative, market approach to his campaign. The credential Crockett has touted most has not been his time on the council so much as his private-sector experience as a business consultant helping to turn around failing companies.

That's not unlike the Romney campaign, which has also lasered in with unerring focus on jobs, the economy and bringing a message of business smarts to improving the battered economy and employment rate.

“With the surge of voters for Romney, that absolutely helps someone like Crockett,” says Matthew Burbank, a professor of political science at the University of Utah. “Both because there are some similarities there between the men and also, I think, that [Romney] simply attracts more Republican voters to the polls.”

While the dramatic campaign of Barack Obama helped not only give Obama Salt Lake County in 2008 by a margin of 296 votes, it also made the county council majority Democrat for the first time in years and helped to reelect Mayor Peter Corroon. This year, however, is going to be all about Romney and that means Democrats will have an uphill battle. Shortly after the announcement of Crockett’s securing the nomination, McAdams’ campaign released a statement emphasizing first McAdams’ own sense of fiscal conservatism.

“My plans for conservative fiscal management will focus on eliminating wasteful tax-dollar spending, promoting economic growth and increasing government efficiency,” the statement read.

Burbank believes that it's possible McAdams could pick up some independents and moderates who voted for Winder, but to win, his campaign will have to focus more on getting out every Democrat to the polls and garnering new supporters wherever he can. “I think he’s in a pretty good position to do that,” Burbank says of McAdams. “He’s a very positively profiled Democrat, a lot of people like him and there’s some enthusiasm for his candidacy. But Democrats will have to work pretty hard to win Salt Lake County. Last time, they barely won Salt Lake County with Obama, and it's going to be a much more Republican tide this year.”

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