ST. GEORGE – Washington County Republicans let out cheers as they watched Trump claim electoral college votes, maintaining a lead over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Tuesday night. At times they seemed like Chicago Cubs fans during the last game of the World Series.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Marc Stallings, who has been a member of the Trump campaign handling Southern Utah. He spoke to St. George News shortly after 7 p.m. as fellow Republicans began to gather at the Falls Event Center for an election night party.
The mood at the event was hopeful and cheery as the evening wore on, with the occasional eruption of cheers as states were called for Trump.
“It’s fun to watch where Trump is going, we’re excited about it,” said Robert Jensen, chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
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Utah and its six electoral votes ultimately went to Trump, despite the efforts of independent candidate Evan McMullin to deny both Trump and Clinton the state.
According to unofficial numbers on the state’s election results website Wednesday morning, Trump took 46.8 percent of the vote, followed by Clinton at 27.8 percent. McMullin placed third at 20.4 percent. Trump carried an easy lead in all counties, according to votes published by the Lt. Governor’s Office Wednesday morning, except Salt Lake (Trump 82,590 votes to Clinton’s 117,667), Summit (Trump 6,588 to Clinton’s 9,464) and Grand (Clinton beat Trump by 4 votes) counties.
“I’m excited to see (Utah go to Trump) because Evan McMullin made it exciting for a while,” said Larry Meyers, chairman of the Dixie Republican Forum. “I’m excited to see Republicans come home to Trump.”
While a Republican took the White House, Republicans in Southern Utah counties maintained their hold on seats in the Legislature and county commissions.
Rep. Brad Last, of Utah House District 71, received 79.7 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Chuck Goode’s 20.3 percent. Last will return to the Utah House to serve his eighth term.
“Obviously this is a pretty Republican area,” Last said. “I’ve had lots of good support in the past and appreciate the people that have been willing to keep sending me up there, so I’ll go up there again and continue doing a good job.”
Last said most of the work he has been doing in the Legislature has involved education, as he is the chairman of a legislative education committee. “There are quite a few different education initiatives that we’re working on,” he said.
Sen. Don Ipson, who was originally running for Utah Senate District 29 before being appointed to fill the seat following Sen. Steve Urquhart’s resignation, will be returning in the new year as a newly-elected state senator. Ipson took 77.65 percent of the vote to challenger Dorothy Engelman’s 22.35 percent.
“I’m just really pleased with everyone who supported me and helped me with the campaign,” Ispon said. “I’m pleased the voice of the people has spoken and has seen fit to send me back to the Legislature for another four years.”
Prior to becoming a state senator, Ipson served as the representative for state House District 75 for eight years.
The Republicans also retain control of the Washington County Commission with Dean Cox leading with 74.25 percent of the vote to unaffiliated challengers Josh Warburton at 23.48 percent and Greg Aldred at 12.27 percent.
Cox, who has served as the Washington County administrator for eight years and the county’s emergency services directer for many years before that, will be replacing outgoing County Commissioner Alan Gardner.
“I’m feeling really, really great about it,” Cox said. “I’m so appreciative of everybody who helped me and encouraged me along the way. It’s been the most amazing experience of my life.”
Cox resigned as county administrator in August.
Republican Reps. Lowry Snow, Jon Stanard and Walt Brooks ran unopposed and will be returning to the state Legislature next year.
The numbers released thus far are unofficial and will be officially canvassed and certified by civic officials in the coming weeks.
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