Good Wednesday morning Utah! Thanks for reading “The Rundown”.
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Are the GOP and Romney headed for a breakup?
It’s no secret that many hardcore Utah Republicans are no fan of Sen. Mitt Romney. Witness the less than cordial reception he got at this year’s GOP convention when he was mercilessly booed from the stage.
A new poll suggests Romney may no longer fit neatly in the Trumpified version of today’s Republican Party.
OH Predictive Insights finds only 42% of Utah Republicans believe there’s room for Romney in today’s GOP. 44% say Romney does not belong.
Trump, on the other hand, would find a much more welcoming atmosphere. 58% say there’s room for the twice-impeached former President.
Romney is not popular among Republicans in Utah, with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they would rather see someone else in the Senate instead of Romney.
“In the 2012 Presidential election, Mit Romney earned the largest share of the vote in Utah of any Republican presidential candidate since Reagan in 1984. The data shows that Utahns’ opinions have flipped since 2012 — with two-thirds of GOP voters preferring a Republican senator other than Mitt Romney, he is more vulnerable than ever in a primary election,” Mike Noble, OHPI Chief of Research said in a press release.
The good thing for Romney is he has more than 3 years before he’s up for re-election. Another factor working in his favor is there are very few Utah Republicans with the political juice to mount a credible challenge to Romney. The Tribune’s Robert Gehrke makes a compelling case that former congressman (and friend of the newsletter) Jason Chaffetz is preparing to challenge Romney in 2024. That’s certainly a possibility, but it’s difficult to see him giving up his prime gig on Fox News.
You can see the question and crosstabs here.
Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning
🚨 Breaking overnight: A Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks goes into effect after the Supreme Court declines to step in and stop it. [WaPo]
🦠 Gov. Spencer Cox will meet with Utah lawmakers today to discuss how to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state. But, it’s likely nothing will come from the meeting as legislative leaders don’t think there’s much they can do to help the situation in the short term. [Tribune]
🏛 President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, calling the airlift to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghans an “extraordinary success.” [AP]
The Taliban stopped a bus loaded with explosives headed toward the Kabul Airport shortly before the U.S. finished its withdrawal from Afghanistan. [NBC News]
An Afghan interpreter who helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden in 2008 was left behind after refusing to leave his family. [WSJ]
A Republican congressman from Oklahoma threatened staffers at the U.S. embassy in Tajikistan as he attempted to cross into Afghanistan with a large amount of cash. Rep. Markwayne Mullin was going to rescue five American citizens and planned to hire a helicopter to get them out. [WaPo]
👀 House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy threatened to punish companies that turn over phone records to the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. [Politico]
🗳 Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters in Congress, was caught on hidden camera blaming Trump for his election defeat. “There’s nothing obviously skewed about the election results,” Johnson said in the recording. [WaPo]
🗳 Former House Speaker Paul Ryan says it’s “really clear” former President Trump lost the 2020 election. “It was not rigged. It was not stolen,” Ryan said during a local television interview. [The Hill]
😷 The CEO of Intermountain Healthcare pleaded with Utahns to wear a mask to stem the surge of coronavirus infections in the state. [Tribune]
🦠 The CDC is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel over the Labor Day holiday because of the risk of further spreading COVID-19. [CNN]
💵 Social Security will have to start cutting benefits in 2034, a full year earlier than expected, because of a projected shortfall due to the pandemic. [CNN]
🚨 Democrats are sounding the alarm about anemic Latino turnout in the California recall election. [Politico]
🦠 Google again pushed back their plans for employees to return to the office until mid-January. [AP]
Will COVID-19 tear us apart?
Last week I asked readers if they thought the ferocious debate around COVID-19, vaccines and masks was bound to tear the country apart, or if it was more of a tempest in a teapot.
Many readers responded to my query with some very insightful thoughts about our hyperpolarized political culture. Here are some of those responses:
I think that Covid-19 and all the accompanying disruptions to people’s lives may have affected people’s mental health more deeply than we realize. I think that most people found a way to trudge through and will recover in time but for some people, the perfect storm of last year’s presidential election and Covid-19 pushed them over the edge. There will always be wackos but I think that the rancor will start to subside rather than get worse barring another catastrophe. — Alex White
Mask mandates aren’t the problem. Vaccine hesitancy isn’t the problem. The problem is poor quality education that has led to a large portion of the population being unable to use reason and scientific thought to analyze a problem and come to a solution. Distrust of the pillars of society has caused these people to seek out alternative news, alt-facts, quacks, charlatans, and psychics. They don’t trust mainstream media, mainstream politicians, or the best and brightest doctors and scientists. This is not a new problem but it is a steadily worsening problem. As more and more school boards are taken over by these people the quality of education diminishes. Books are altered to present half-truths and tall tales as fact. Those educated in these systems of less knowledge go on to multiply and their progeny have issues with even more facts. This is not so much a political problem though it seems the majority of these people have flocked to the new Republican Party. The Democrats are not exempt from this as many on the far left have never studied and have little knowledge of the problems of communism and other extreme socialist governments and societies. — David Crispin
I am a 72-year-old retired physician who has cancer in remission. I spent March 2020-July 2021 essentially homebound, only leaving home for doctor appointments. I do not understand those who do not want to be vaccinated. When I was a child, Polio was the disease we all feared When the Polio vaccine became available, our parents lined us up as soon as it was available so we would be safe. The vaccines are safe. Also, face masks are safe. If we do not use face masks in school, children are going to become infected. Some with underlying conditions may die. In previous crises our country has pulled together for the greater good, I just don’t understand why our citizens are so resistant to doing the same with this crisis. — Kathie Coopersmith, MD
I am appalled by the current “political” climate surrounding COVID, and I am fearful that the longer it continues the more lives it will cost. This Is a health crisis! Death does not distinguish whether its victims are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other. At the end of it all – people are dying from this “Thing.” How many people reading these columns remember the days when, in order to even attend public schools, you had to produce your immunization records? The purpose then, as it should be now, was to make sure that all children were SAFE! Where are the “politics” in that? I understand people who are claiming “parents’ rights” but – What about the children? I just wish that everyone would recognize this pandemic for what it is: a killer! It is the enemy – Not my neighbor down the street. Maybe if we applied something other than political views, like a sense of unity to defeat this enemy – we could make a difference? Perhaps this may sound “pollyannish” but what have we got to lose? — B. Murphy
Wednesday morning’s Utah news roundup
$10,000 reward offered for information in Moab double homicide. [Tribune]
Advocates want a needle exchange program in St. George to help the city’s homeless, but not everyone’s on board. [Tribune]
Afghan and Iraqi refugees can ask to be resettled in Salt Lake City. [Tribune]
Eccles Theater requiring vaccination or negative result to enter live shows. [ABC4]
The rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Utah is the highest in 7 months. [Tribune]
Davis County reopens mass vaccination center with COVID-19 surging. [FOX13]
Weber County officials prepare to offer booster COVID-19 shots. [Standard Examiner]
Is COVID vaccine safe while pregnant? A pregnant infectious disease doctor answers. [KSL]
Bear River Health Department outlines plan to keep kids in school despite COVID concerns. [ABC4]
Why indoor air can be just as bad as the pollution outside — and what you can do about it. [Tribune]
BLM resumes oil and gas leasing in Utah. [Tribune]
Month after devastating flooding hit Enoch, community still working to rebuild. [FOX13]
Herriman homeowner asks city to pay for flood damage despite law saying it doesn’t have to. [KUTV]
Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company shutting off secondary water early due to drought. [KSL]
Orem building moratorium amended after City Council inundated with emails and calls. [Daily Herald]
Richins Ranch conservation easement approved, preserving 851 acres near Chalk Creek. [Park Record]
On the Opinion Pages
How Cox let dirty industry take over Utah’s air quality planning, Tribune Editorial Board writes. [Tribune]
Will oil and gas foxes be watching Utah’s air quality henhouse? Robert Gehrke asks. [Tribune]
Gerald Elias: Public health measures through the years were called ‘demagoguery’. [Tribune]
Paul Krugman: The snake oil theory of the modern right. [Tribune]
— The Tribune’s Connor Sanders contributed to this report