Kennedy: Areas like Washington County ‘vitally important’ in Senate race

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy visits SunRiver during a campaign stop in St. George to garner support in his race against Mitt Romney in the June 26 Republican primary, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Hoping to gain support for his U.S. Senate campaign, Mike Kennedy visited SunRiver Wednesday and spoke to supporters and prospective voters who look to him as a real alternative to Mitt Romney.

Kennedy, a 49-year-old physician from Utah County, likened the biblical story of David and Goliath to his campaign against Romney for the Senate seat long held by Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring. The two will face off in the June 26 primary to determine who will represent the Republican Party in November’s general election.

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy makes a campaign stop at SunRiver, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Kennedy narrowly beat Romney state GOP convention in April – 51 percent to 49 percent.

Following the event at SunRiver, delegates who attended the convention told Kennedy his message resonated with them over Romney.

Read more: Romney must compete in primary for Utah Senate seat

“When we were vetting all of the candidates before convention, almost everybody was leaning for Romney,” a delegate said to Kennedy after the event. “By the time vetting was done and we talked to you guys individually and we found out where you really stand, (we) voted for you.”

It is the voters who live outside of Salt Lake County and the surrounding region who Kennedy hopes will help secure his spot on the ballot. It’s why he called rural Utah and places like Washington County “vitally important” in the race.

“A lot of people on the outskirts are very invested and motivated in making sure they get a regular Utahn who’s lived and worked here and understands (Utah),” Kennedy said. “I think Washington County will be key for us.”

Kennedy has repeatedly said he understands Utah better than Romney, adding he “doesn’t need a visitors guide” to the state.

A supporter of U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy holds a campaign sign at the candidate’s visit to SunRiver, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Romney grew up in Michigan and served as the governor of Massachusetts. He eventually moved to Utah following an unsuccessful run for president in 2012.

Pointing to the Goliath reference, Kennedy said he understands what he’s up against. Romney has become a favored adopted son of Utah. He’s gained the endorsements of leading Utah politicians like Gov. Gary Herbert, as well as Hatch, who has said he would like someone like Romney to replace him.

Romney even gained President Donald Trump’s support despite the two railing against each other during the 2016 presidential race.

Read more: Trump endorses Romney for Senate bid in Utah

Romney is popular in Utah where he is held up as the man who led a turnaround of the scandal-plagued 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as a prominent Mormon businessman and politician in the state where 60 percent of the population belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When many prospective voters look at Romney, Kennedy said, “They see a handsome guy with a smooth voice.”

Because of this, Kennedy asked the crowd to “spread the word” by talking to family and friends and putting campaign signs in their yards – or on their golf carts as had already been done in some cases.

U.S. Senate candidates Mike Kennedy, left, and Mitt Romney shake hands at the beginning of a their debate, May 29, 2018, in Provo, Utah. | Photo by Scott G Winterton, The Deseret News via The Associated Press, St. George News

Romney has been featured at events with Utah politicians, members of the state’s congressional delegation and other prominent figures, including in March when he and some of Utah’s congressional delegates spoke to public lands issues at Dixie State University.

Read more: Romney, Bishop, Stewart discuss public lands, working with Trump

“It’s the way the process works for the establishment,” Kennedy said. “I understand that. It’s fine. We don’t try to muscle our way into things we’re not invited to.”

Kennedy said he would rather work with regular people and talk to them directly rather than sit on a panel at a summit.

During the SunRiver event, Kennedy was asked about Romney talking about how his relationships in Washington, D.C., would help him and Utah by promoting collaboration over division.

“I have relations with these people and I believe we’ll be able to work with each other and get some things done,” Romney said during a visit to St. George last month.

“Well, he knows Washington like the back of his hand, and I know Utah like the back of my hand,” Kennedy said, adding Romney’s connections are a reason he wouldn’t vote for him.

A man wears his heart on his hat at U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy’s campaign stop in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“He represents the Washington insider establishment. I don’t, and Donald Trump doesn’t either.”

Read more: Romney touts his connections as advantage over opponent, visits Dixie Tech

Kennedy said he supports the president and credits him for his support of last fall’s tax cuts. He also said he believes the president is “doing an outstanding job trying to drain the swamp.”

Kennedy’s support of Trump could serve him well among Washington County Republicans where the president garnered nearly 70 percent of the 2016 vote versus 45 percent in Utah overall.

Still, Romney enjoyed major support among Washington County voters during the 2012 presidential election when he gained 82 percent of the vote.

As for criticizing Trump, Kennedy said he wouldn’t do it on a public stage as Romney had done during the 2016 presidential campaign. Romney has since become a supporter of the president, which Kennedy and others say is an example of his flip-flopping on issues.

“The only thing consistent about his record is his inconsistency,” Kennedy said.

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy speaks at a campaign stop in SunRiver, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Read more: Romney defends attacks from Kennedy in final debate before primary

Kennedy, who has served six years in the Utah Legislature, said he brings a unique set of skills to the table for voters to consider. In additional being a medical doctor, he is also an attorney.

“I know what it’s like to be a legislator and I know what it’s like to work with people,” he said.

He called the national debt the biggest security threat the nation faces and said he would work to cut taxes and spending.

Cutting taxes will stimulate the economy, he said, adding that certain government programs need to be cut while also ensuring the federal government keeps its promises to veterans and senior citizens.

He also told the crowd at SunRiver that he supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is pro-life and supports the Second Amendment.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • great success June 7, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    If you buy DOCTOR!!!OH WOW!!!!! Kennedy is different than any other weasel grappling their way up the political ladder, you’re on glue. Like what, he’s revolutionary because he’s Utah raised and could prescribe u an RX for heart burn if push came to shove? Politics is just about winning and losing. Not right and wrong. The policital system is corrupt and the hogs attracted to the filth will come to feed.

    • jaybird June 9, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Romney is running on being a deficit hawk who will work to bring the $2 trillion deficit in the wake of the republican tax break for the rich in tow. And how will he do that? By taking it from the 47% of Americans he claimed dont pay their way, the freeloaders he claims. Sorry Mitt that would include about 70% of all Utahns cause that wages are so low here that many dont pay taxes, are on Medicare, social security, disability or Medicaid. Vote Kennedy.

  • Not_So_Much June 8, 2018 at 10:39 am

    I missed it where you mentioned some 200+ people attended and then that evening another 125 met Dr Mike Kennedy in the park on a warm evening. A majority who look at both candidates choose Kennedy as the superior person to represent Utah in DC.

  • Chris June 8, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    “A majority who look at both candidates choose Kennedy as the superior person to represent Utah in DC” And you know this how? Since polls favor Romney by a wide margin, it would appear your assertion is based simply on your personal anecdotal experience, hardly a rigorous statistical approach.

    • John June 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      The polls also said hillary was going to win by landslide.. Don’t vote for rino romney the flip flopper!

  • Chris June 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    Interesting that Mike Kennedy is a native of Michigan, same as Mitt. While he may “know Utah like the back of my hand,” he is not from here originally either.

  • Voice of Reason 123 June 8, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    Mori Kessler I really really want to thank you for this AWESOME article about Dr. Mike Kennedy, a decent, humble man wanting to improve the lives of families in Utah.

    No newspapers in Salt Lake City will mention him, other than in unfavorable terms. It is sickening.

    God Bless you Mori & Bless the St. George News !!!!

    Vote Mike Kennedy on June 26th.

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