At Utah GOP party, even winning feels like something less
Published: November 6, 2012 10:56PM
Updated: November 7, 2012 10:44AM
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A musician packs up his combo's instruments in a suite at the Salt Lake City Hilton on Tuesday night, as part of the Utah Republican Party's victory celebration was winding down. (photo by Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune)

At 10:40 p.m., the Utah Republican Party still held an overwhelming majority of both houses of the Utah Legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion, the attorney general’s office, a U.S. Senate seat and at least three of the state’s four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Then why is everyone in the ballrooms of the Salt Lake City Hilton, where the Utah Republican Party held its victory celebration, acting like somebody’s dog died?

Oh, right, the Romney thing.

Without a win at the tippy-top of the ticket — without that semi-honorary Utahn, Mitt Romney, as president — it’s like no Republican feels much like celebrating the fact that they still own pretty near everything worth owning in the corridors of Utah power.

Even in his victory speech, Attorney General-elect John Swallow started with a melancholy “As disappointed as we are...” (It was also oddly comic that during Swallow’s speech, in which he touted his drive to fight against internet crime against children, the Fox News feed on the giant screen to his right was showing Heidi Klum shaking her tush for Jordache jeans.)

Chris Stewart, the newly minted Congressman for Utah’s 2nd District, had to interrupt his victory speech when Romney’s concession speech started. He delivered the second half of that speech to a half-empty (or, if you’re optimistic, half-full) ballroom.

Meanwhile the two other races that may get the Republican faithful cheering again — Mia Love’s challenge to incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson, or the Salt Lake County mayor’s race between Republican Mark Crockett and Democrat Ben McAdams — may not get called until the wee small hours. By which time, a lot of the Hilton crowd will be packing it in for the night.