Mitt Romney, other Utah leaders react to Joe Biden’s presidential victory

FILE- In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden pumps his fist on stage with his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

After days of painstaking vote counting in tight swing states, the conclusion was clear — Joe Biden is the president-elect. In reaction, people of all political stripes offered both well-wishes and worries on social media.

Sen. Mitt Romney was the first sitting Republican senator in the nation to congratulate the president-elect. He called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “people of good will and admirable character.”

As the Republican’s 2012 presidential candidate, Romney lost to then President Barack Obama, and called to concede. Trump did not do so Saturday.

Romney, R-Utah, has said he did not vote for Trump but he has not said who he did support.

The response from prominent Utahns, including its Republican leaders, was largely positive and congratulatory toward the incoming Biden-Harris administration, with many offering hopes for a more unified country.

Gov.-elect Spencer Cox praised Biden for his “commitment to unite us all" and he thanked President Donald Trump “for your sacrifice and leadership over the past 4 years.” Cox also wrote that there is “space for legal challenges” to the president-elect’s victory. In the days before the election, Cox had appeared with his Democratic rival, Chris Peterson, in ads urging Utahns to accept the results of the presidential race.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, who once served as Trump’s ambassador to Russia, acknowledged the election news may be a source of both excitement and concern for some voters, but he vouched for the incoming president.

“The Joe Biden I know will embrace all Americans with calm and a much needed sense of humanity,” Huntsman tweeted. “Let’s heal our wounds.”

Utah’s Lt. Gov.-elect. Deidre Henderson tweeted about the milestones women have achieved in politics since the suffragist movement to the election of Harris, who will become the first female vice president.

“I may belong to a different political party, but I offer my sincere congratulations to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Henderson wrote. “I’m excited to see her break down this barrier and make the path a little smoother for women in the future.”

Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only congressional Democrat, congratulated Biden and Harris “on their historic success. Now is the time to put people before party and come together to work in a bipartisan manner on issues that are important to Utah’s hard-working families.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who has often been critical of the Trump administration’s pandemic response, wrote “I am relieved that progress for @SLCoGov will again have back up from our federal government."

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said she was “elated" about Biden’s victory and tweeted that she hoped he would be a unifying force. “As President-elect Biden spoke last night his words touched my heart, as I know it did many,” she wrote. “We may be opponents — but we are not enemies. We are Americans.'”

Although Trump refused to concede, some Republican members of the Utah Legislature offered congratulations, including Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, shared a selfie he took with Biden and said he would be “praying” for the president-elect as he takes “the helm of a divided nation.” He also wrote that he’ll be watching the new president “very closely” to ensure he serves both Democratic and Republican states.

Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton, a Republican, called Harris' election victory “historic” and said she looked forward to working with the new administration to heal a divided nation.

Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge tweeted that he didn’t vote for the Democratic candidate, but that he was also praying for Biden’s success in leading the nation.

He added that he hoped Biden’s unifying tone would guide the way he governs in the coming years. “We need it,” Ainge wrote.

Some well-known Utah personalities also shared their thoughts. Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted his excitement about Harris, who is also the first Black and South Asian person elected to the vice presidency. Reflecting on his mother and sister, Mitchell wrote that Harris' historic win “is truly incredible not just for black people but for BLACK WOMEN!”

Mitchell had appeared in a campaign video with Harris.

Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, who is the only Black woman ever elected to Utah’s Legislature, replied to Mitchell’s tweet: “Representation matters.”