ELECTIONS IN THE STATE OF UTAH
Ten months after Utah became a state on 4 January 1896 Utah citizens participated in their first national election. The voter turnout was heavy and included a large number of women, who had been guaranteed the right to vote in the new state constitution. With statehood a reality, Utahns turned their attention to national issues and gave Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan 82.7 percent of their vote, the largest ever in a Utah presidential election, because of his position in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of silver, which most Utahns felt would help the depressed economy of the mid-1890s. With a statewide vote of 64,367 to 13,448 for the Democratic candidate, most Utah voters were disappointed when William McKinley won the national election by less than one percent of the vote. In Utah, the appeal of "free sliver" was that it not only would stimulate mining but also would bring prosperity to Utah agriculture through creating mild inflation and better agricultural prices.
There was no election for governor in 1896. Heber M. Well, a Republican, had defeated Democrat John T. Caine by 20,833 to 18,519 votes during an election held on the eve of statehood in November 1895 to set up the machinery for the new state. Wells' first term was to run for five years, until the next general election in 1900.
Utah was entitled to one representative in the United States House of Representatives, and in 1896 Democrat William H. King defeated Republican Lafayette Holbrook by 47,356 to 27,813 votes. Populist candidate Warren Foster received 2,279 votes.
The strength of the Democratic party in Utah was evidenced in the election of only two Republicans to the entire Utah State legislature. With the November elections, there were three Republicans, three Populists, and thirty-nine Democrats in the house and no Republicans, on Populist and seventeen Democrats in the Utah Senate. Three women ran for the Utah state senate: Martha Hughes Cannon as a Democrat, Emmeline B. Wells as a Republican, and Lucy A. Clark as a Republican; only Martha Hughes Cannon, won election. Four women ran for election to the house of representatives: Democrats Sarah E. Anderson of Weber County and Eurethe LaBarthe of Salt Lake County won election, while Republicans Martha Campbell of Salt Lake County and Mrs. F.E. Stewart of Utah County were defeated.
Until ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, United States senators were selected by the state legislature. With statehood, Republican Arthur Brown and Democrat Frank J. Cannon had been selected as Utah's first senators. However, in order to provide for the earliest possible election and to stagger the elections of the U.S. senators, Brown's term was to end on 3 March 1897 and Cannon's in 1899. With the Democratic legislature, it was expected that Brown would lose his seat. A three-way contest emerged and Joseph L. Rawlins was selected on the fifty-third ballot as the compromise candidate between henry P. Henderson, supported by LDS general authorities, and Moses Thatcher, Utah's leading Democrat and one of the LDS Twelve Apostles, but who was not sustained as an apostle at the October 1896 general conference because he was "out of harmony" with his fellow apostles and the church presidency.
Thatcher had ignored the "Political Manifesto" which was presented to members of the LDS Church on 6 April 1896. The manifesto held that before a leading official could seek political position that might interfere with his church duties, he must first obtain permission before accepting any nomination. The manifesto also declared in favor of the separation of church and state, though there were some skeptics, especially when a church legislative committee was established to review and prevent the passage of "improper legislation."
The issue of civil rights also emerged in the election as W.W. Taylor, an African-American, ran for the Utah State Legislature as a Republican with the goal to pass legislation to allow African Americans to "go anywhere, so long as they pay their money and act like gentlemen and ladies, in the city-in the restaurants, in the hotels, in the theaters, and so forth." Like nearly all of his fellow Republicans, Taylor did not win, but he did gain more than 6,500 votes, many more than the number of Afro-American in Salt Lake City.
Republicans dominated the 1900 election, through few political analysts would have predicted that, following the overwhelming vote for William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election, he would receive 33 percent less than his percentage of votes in 1896 and that Republican William McKinley would increase the number of Utahns voting for him by 360 percent to beat Bryan by 47,139 votes to 45,006.
Prosperity, the fear that industries would shut down and the depression would return if a Democrat was elected, the victory of the United States in the Spanish-American War under a Republican president, the choice of an incumbent, a good state slate of Republican candidates, and a Republican platform that called for the coinage of both gold and silver, regulation of monopolies, and a protective tariff all worked to the advantage of the Republicans in the 1900 election.
Incumbent Heber M. Wells won election to a second term at Utah's governor with a 48,000 to 44,000 victory over Democrat James H. Moyle. Republican George Sutherland also defeated Democrat William H. King 46,180 to 45,939 votes in a very close race for Utah's seat in the United States House of Representatives. Republican Thomas Kearns won election to the United States Senate on the twenty-third ballot with a 37 to 25 vote over Democrat Alfred W. McCune. The election of a Republican senator was insured with the shift in the state legislature from Democratic to Republican control, with twenty-eight Republicans to seventeen Democrats in the house of representatives and eight Republicans to ten Democrats in the senate.
Republicans continued to dominate Utah politics in the 1904 election. The presidential campaign offered three choices: Republican Theodore Roosevelt, who had become president on 14 September 1901 after William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, New York; Democrat Alton B. Bunker; and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Roosevelt won the state easily with 62,446 votes while Bunker and Debs polled 33,413 and 5,757, respectively. The Socialist part offered a full slate of candidates and, though they did not win any statewide elections, they were victorious in some local contests. Heber M. Wells failed to win his bid to seek a third term as governor, with the Republican nomination going to John C. Cutler. An English-born Mormon businessman, Cutler continued the Republican hold on the governor's chair, receiving 50,837 votes in a four-way race that included Democrat James H. Moyle with 38,047 votes, the Socialist Joseph A. Kaufman with 4,892 votes, and William M. Ferry with 7,959 votes. Ferry was a candidate of the American Party of Utah, which was organized to provide a political party with which LDS Church leaders could not interfere.
Republican Joseph Howell, who had been elected to his first term in the United States House of Representatives with a 44,000 to 38,000 victory over William H. King, defeated Democrat Orlando W. Powers by 53,000 to 37,000 votes to win the reelection as Utah' congressman. Republicans dominated the Utah Legislature with a forty-one to four margin over Democrats in the house and fifteen to three in the senate. The Utah Legislature elected Republican George Sutherland to the United States Senate, where he joined fellow Republican Reed Smoot, who had been selected by the legislature after the 1902 election. Smoot survived a lengthy confirmation battle that was finally resolved when President Roosevelt and the Senate Republican leadership interceded to allow the Mormon apostle to take his seat.
Republican control of the state continued for the third straight general election as their platform continued prosperity based on the protective tariff, and their candidates won every major statewide election in Utah. With the decision of Theodore Roosevelt not to seek reelection, his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, was an easy winner with 61,165 votes. The Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, polled 42,601 votes, which were the least number of Utah votes he received during his three election attempts in 1896, 1900, and 1908, and it was approximately 10,000 votes more than Alton B. Bunker, the Democratic candidate in the previous election, had received. Socialist Eugene V. Debs finished third with 4,890 votes, about 800 fewer than he had received in 1904.
Republican William Spry won the governor's chair (with 52,913 votes) over Democrat Mormon mining magnate Jesse W. Knight, who captured 43,266 votes. Socialist V.R. Bohman polled 3,936 votes, and John A. Street, candidate for the American party, gathered 11,404. Republican Reed Smoot won reelection to his second term in the United States Senate. Republican Joseph Howell returned to the United States Congress for his forth consecutive term, with a 52,544 to 32,981 win over Democrat Lyman R. Martineau. Only two Democrats were elected to the Utah State Legislature; they served in the lower house with forty-three Republicans. The Utah senate consisted of eighteen Republicans and no Democrats.
Following the 1910 census, it was determined that Utah was entitled to two congressional representatives. The election of the two representatives and the three-way race between William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson made the 1912 election a memorable one for Utah and the entire nation. When Taft did not follow the policies of his predecessor in the White House, and when he began to lose the support of Progressive, Roosevelt decided to oust Taft as the Republican nominee in the 1912 election. When he failed to do so and went off to form the Progressive, or "Bull Moose" party, the resulting three-way race opened the door for the election of Woodrow Wilson. In Utah, Taft won the 42,013 votes, while Wilson came in second with 36,579 votes to 24, 171 for Theodore Roosevelt. Utah and Vermont were the only states to vote for Taft, who ran third nationally behind Wilson and Roosevelt. Socialist Eugene v. Debs picked up 8,999 votes, the largest number of his three campaigns and nearly double his Utah votes in 1908. With eight percent of the Utah vote, Debs surpassed his national average of nearly six percent.
The governor's race was split four ways with incumbent William Spry winning a second term with 42,552 votes over Democrat John F. Tolton (36,076), Progressive Nephi L. Morris (23,590), and Socialist Homer P. Burt (8,797). Joseph Howell was elected to his sixth and final consecutive term in the United States House of Representatives, defeating Democrat Tollman D. Johnson by 43,133 votes to 36,640. Howell was joined by non-Mormon Republican Jacob Johnson, a resident of Spring City in Sanpete County, as the representative from the newly created Second Congressional District after his 42,049 to 37,192 vote victory over Democrat Mathonihah Thomas.
There was no contest for the United States Senate in 1912. Two years earlier, George Sutherland had won reelection to his second and final term in the last election of a U.S. Senator by the Utah Legislature before the Seventeenth Amendment, which provided for the direct election of senators, went into effect for the 1914 election. Republicans continued to dominate the Utah State Legislature, with Thirty Republicans to fifteen Democrats in the house and seventeen Republicans to one Democrat in the senate.
The highlight of the 1916 election in Utah was the election of Simon Bamberger as governor. A native of Darmstadt, Germany, who arrived in the United States at the age of fourteen, Bamberger was the first non-Mormon and the first Jew elected governor of the state. Despite an election with anti-Semitic overtones, and a successful challenge in the Republican convention by Nephi Morris to incumbent William Spry, who lost support because of his veto of a prohibition bill, Bamberger defeated Morris by a vote of 78,502 to 59,522. Socialist candidate F.M. McHugh polled 4,391.
Woodrow Wilson ran on the national Democratic ticket on a platform of maintaining peace with dignity and honor while avoiding war with foreign powers. Wilson won a significant victory in Utah, defeating Republican Charles Evans Hughes 85,135 to 54,137 votes. Socialist Allan J. Benson received 4,460 votes.
In the United State Senate contest, Democrat William H. King won the first of his four consecutive terms, defeating incumbent Republican George Sutherland by 81,057 votes to 56,862. After seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Joseph Howell did not run for another term. His First Congressional District seat was captured by Democrat Milton H. Willing with a 40,035 to 29,902 vote victory over Republican Timothy C. Hoyt. In the Second Congressional District, non-Moron Democrat James H. Mays defeated Charles R. Mabey by 39,839 to 27,778 votes. Mays had won the seat in the 1914 election by a 158-vote margin over Republican E.O. Leatherwood.
The Democrats won big in the state elections, as only a total of five Republicans won seats in the legislature. The Utah House of Representatives had as many Republican legislators as did Socialists-one each-while Democrats took forty-four seats. In the senate, four Republicans were matched against fourteen Democrats. While the 1915 legislature had met in the partially completed building, the 1916 election marked a new era in Utah government with the dedication of the Utah State Capitol building a month before the election, on 9 October 1916.
Utah voters gave their overwhelming support to the man who promised a "Return to Normalcy." Republican Warren G. Harding received 81,555 votes to 56,639 for Democrat James M. Cox. The Utah vote reflected the national trend of sixteen million to nine million votes in favor of Harding. The election was something of a referendum on whether or not the United States should join the League of Nations. The strong vote for Harding made it clear that there was not much support for the League in Utah. Socialist Eugene V. Debs gathered 3,159 votes, the poorest showing for the Socialist party since it was first placed on the Utah ballot in 1904.
Republican Charles R. Mabey was elected governor, receiving 81,550 votes compared with 54,913 for Democrat Thomas N. Taylor. Mabey, a Utah native, had served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I, where he reached the rank of major. Reed Smoot won reelection to his fourth term in the United States Senate with 82,556 votes to 56,280 for Democrat Milton H. Welling, who had been elected to terms in the United States House of Representatives in 1916 and 1918. Democrats lost both of their congressional seats as Republicans Don B. Colton and E.O. Leatherwood won the First and Second districts with 41,749 to 27,974 and 39,235 to 28,021 over Democrats James W. Funk and Mathonihah Thomas, respectively.
Whereas in 1916 only one Republican had been elected to the Utah House of Representatives, only one Democrat was elected in 1920; Republicans dominated the house forty-six to one and controlled the state senate with an eleven to seven ratio.
The unique feature of the 1924 election is that is was the first and (to this date) only time that a Utah governor lost his bid for reelection. Governor Charles Mabey lost the election to Democrat George H. Dern by a vote of 81,308 to 72,127. The reasons for Mabey's defeat are complex, but include a nationwide recession, especially in agriculture, mining and manufacturing; the endorsement that George Dern received from Robert LaFollette and the Progressive part; Mabey's monetary and fiscal policies, which alienated many voters; the lack of support (and even opposition from Republican part leaders in Utah because of Mabey's patronage policies; and, what some described as his humorless and self-righteous personality.
Utah voters continued to vote for the Republican presidential nominee, with Calvin Coolidge winning over Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive party candidate Robert LaFollette 77,327 to 47,001 and 32,662, respectively. Utah Democrats had preferred William G. McAdoo, Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law, but when he and Alfred E. Smith remained deadlocked after 102 ballots at the Democratic convention, Davis was selected as the compromise candidate.
There was no senatorial contest in 1924, but two years earlier incumbent Democrat William H. King won a narrow victory over Republican Ernest Bamberger by a vote of 58,749 to 58,188. In the congressional elections, Republican Don B. Colton and E.O. Leatherwood won a third-term reelections. Colton defeated Democrat Frank Fancis by a vote of 40,883 to 33,644, while in the Second Congressional District Leatherwood defeated Democrat James H. Waters by a 41,888 to 32,045 vote count. The Utah State Legislature continued to be dominated by Republicans-there was a forty-six to nine-ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the house and a nineteen to one ration in the senate.
Although Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover won easily in Utah with a 94,618 to 80,985 vote victory over the Democratic contender Alfred E. Smith, Hoover's four percent margin of victory was still some four percent less than his national average of 58.33 percent of the vote as he defeated the New York City native, Irish Catholic, and anti-prohibition candidate. Smith's call for an end to prohibition was unwelcome to most Utah voters in 1928 and cost him more votes in Utah than did his religion and big-city manner.
Incumbent Democrat governor George H. Dern won easily over Republican challenger William H. Wattis, 102,953 to 72,306. In the United States Senate race, Democrat William H. Kin won reelection to a third term by defeating Republican Ernest Bamberger 97,436 to 77,073. This 20,000-plus margin was a significant victory in light of the 561-vote victory King won over Bamberger in the 1922 election. Republicans still controlled the other senate seat by virtue of Reed Smoot's 88,101 to 58,809 defeat of Ashby Snow in the 1926 election.
Republican Don B. Colton won reelection to a fifth term as U.S. Representative from the First Congressional District with an easy 50,274 to 31,889 victory over Democrat Knox Patterson. However, in the Second Congressional District, Republican E.O. Leatherwood squeaked out an 841-vote victory over Democrat J.H. Paul, 46,866 to 46,025, to win his fifth and final election to the House of Representatives. Leatherwood died December 1929. In the state legislature, while Republicans held the majority of seats in both houses, it was by the slim margin over the Democrats of twenty-nine to twenty-six in the house and eleven to nine in the senate.
Utah, tormented by the Great Depression, turned its back on Republican politicians, voting what was in effect a recall of Herbert Hoover and Reed Smoot in an election that had the appearance of wholehearted support for Democratic candidates, especially Franklin D. Roosevelt and his promise of a "New Deal" for the American people. Both presidential candidates made visits to Utah, Roosevelt in mid-September, and Herbert Hoover the day before the election, when he gave a major address in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Roosevelt won with 116,750 votes compared to 84,513 for incumbent Herbert Hoover. Hoover had won Utah in 1928; he received 10,000 fewer votes in 1932 than he had in 1928. Roosevelt, with his 58 percent of the vote, received more than 35,000 votes more than had Alfred E. Smith in 1928.
Utah's support for change was also reelected in the defeat of five-term Republican Senator Reed Smoot by University of Utah science professor Elbert Thomas-also by a 58 percent margin: 116,909 to 86,066. Smoot, an apostle in the Mormon Church, was first elected to the United States Senate in 1903 and had been the leading force in Utah Republican party politics for three decades.
Henry H. Blood, matching the votes for Roosevelt and Thomas, kept the governor's office under Democratic control with a 116,031 to 85,913 vote victory over Republican William W. Seegmiller. Blood campaigned on his support for Roosevelt. Incumbent Democratic governor George Dern had decided against seeking a third term and was promoted by some to be Roosevelt's vice-presidential running mate. Though not selected for this position, Dern was later appointed Secretary of War in the Roosevelt cabinet, making him the first Utahn to hold a position in a presidential cabinet.
Democrats also won both seats in the United States Congress when the Republican incumbents were defeated. In the First Congressional District, Abe Murdock denied Don B. Colton a seventh term in a fairly close election-47,774 to 44,827. In the Second District, J. Will Robinson defeated Federick C. Loofbourow with 57 percent of the vote, 63,400 to 46,919. The Utah Legislature turned Democratic with a fifty-one to nine majority in the house and thirteen to ten in the senate.
In the 1932 election, Utahns voted on two proposed constitutional amendments. The first, to establish a minimum wage, passed with 86 percent of the vote, 133,771 to 21,941. The second, to repeal prohibition, passed 99,943 to 62,437 despite LDS Church authorities speaking out strongly against repeal. Economic issues focused on the problems of the Great Depression; related issues included the remonetization of silver and the Democrat's push for a "competitive tariff" opposed to the prevailing high protective tariffs such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff that Reed Smoot had cosponsored in 1930.
The Democratic avalanche continued and even intensified through the 1936 election. Franklin D. Roosevelt polled 33,000 more votes in 1936 than he had in 1932, as he upped his share of the Utah vote to 70 percent with 150,002 to 64,555 victory over Republican Alfred N. Landon.
Henry H. Blood won his second term as governor with a 109,656 to 80,118 vote victory over Republican Ray E. Dillman. An independent candidate, Ogden mayor Harmon W. Peery, who advocated legalized horse racing and the return of the liquor business to private ownership, came in a distant third with 24,754 votes. During the Democratic convention, Blood was challenged by Herbert B. Maw, a state senator and dean of men at the University of Utah. Maw and his supporters felt that Blood had been too cautious in handling New Deal programs, that he was given too much attention to business interests in making appointments and shaping policy, and that he and his followers had threatened and coerced state departments and state employees to back his reelection. Blood won renomination, but Maw would be the Democratic nominee in 1940.
There was no U.S. Senate contest; William H. King had defeated Don B. Colton in 1934 to win his fourth and final senate term by a vote of 95,931 to 82,154. In the congressional elections, the Democratic incumbents won reelection to third terms. In the First Congressional District, Abe Murdock defeated Arthur Woolley 68,877 to 30,415; in the Second Congressional District, J. Will Robinson won by a vote of 81,119 to 34,655 over Arthur V. Watkins. Democrats controlled the state legislature, holding all but five of the seats in the both houses-fifty-six to four in the lower house and twenty-two to one in the senate.
The 1940 election was an affirmation of Utah's support for Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Roosevelt polled 153,833 votes to 92,973 for Republican Wendell L. Willkie. Despite some opposition to a third term, Roosevelt had strong support for his domestic New Deal program and a foreign policy which had kept America out of the world war. In the Senate race, Democrat William King lost his bid for a fifth term when he was defeated in the Democratic convention by Abe Murdock. King's anti-New Deal votes in the Senate influenced Utah Democrats to run to the pro-New Deal attorney from Beaver who had served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives since his first election in 1932. Murdock defeated Republican Philo Farnsworth by 155,499 votes to 91,931 votes.
Herbert B. Maw maintained Democratic control of the governor's office with a narrow victory over Republican Don B. Colton-128,519 to 117,713 votes. With Abe Murdock vacating his congressional seat, Democrat Walter K. Granger waged a successful campaign against Republican LeRoy B. Young, winning 62,654 to 47,021. In the Second Congressional District, Democratic incumbent J. Will Robinson won reelection to a fifth term with an 86,874 to 50,331 count over Republican A. Sherman Christensen. Democrats continued control of the Utah State Legislature with a forty-four to sixteen margin in the house and a nineteen to four count in the senate.
Held five months after the successful Allied landing at Normandy in France, the 1944 election was an expression of Utah's commitment to stay with its wartime leaders, at least until World War II was over. Franklin D. Roosevelt carried Utah for a fourth time, with 150,088 votes to 97,891 for Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Herbert B. Maw won reelection to a second term as governor; however, he only narrowly defeated the Republican contender J. Bracken Lee by just over a thousand votes-123,907 to 122,851.
In the Senate race, Democrat Elbert D. Thomas won reelection to his second term, defeating Republican Adam S. Bennion 148,738 to 99,532. Both Democratic incumbents won reelection to the United State House of Representatives. Walter K. Granger defeated B.H. Stringham 59,755 to 43,642 to win his third term; and J. Will Robinson beat Quayle Cannon 89,844 to 54,440 to win his seventh and final term from the Second Congressional District. The Utah State Legislature remained in the firm grip of Democrats, with a forty-five to fifteen margin in the house and an eighteen to five count in the senate.
Harry S. Truman continued the Democratic domination of Utah that began with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. However, Truman's victory of 149,151 to 124,402 votes over Thomas E. Dewey, a 54.5 percent margin, was a much lower percentage than any for Roosevelt in the four previous elections. In the congressional elections, Utah made history by electing its first women representative, Reva Beck Bosone, a Democrat and a liberal; she achieved a 92,770 to 68,693 victory over conservative incumbent William A. Dawson. In the First Congressional District, Democrat Walter K. Granger, running for his fifth and final time, beat Republican David J. Wilson 66,641 to 46,229.
Perhaps the greatest political surprise was the defeat of two-term Democratic incumbent governor Herbert B. Maw by conservative J. Bracken Lee by a vote of 151,253 to 123,814. However, the new governor still had a Democratic legislature he had to work with: there were twelve Democrats to eleven Republicans in the senate and forty-one Democrats to nineteen Republicans in the house. All of the state's daily newspapers and many of the weeklies gave direct or implied indorsement to Thomas Dewey; however, Utah Democratic leaders maximized Truman's whistle-stop campaign in the state and his speech at the Salt Lake City LDS Tabernacle, played up statements that Dewey was arrogant and egotistical, and mobilized their own well-run political machine to put Utah in the Truman column.
Lee's support came from conservatives, independents, and a number of voters who crossed over from the Democratic party to vote for him because of his colorful personality, his support for placing the issue of alcohol sale by the drink on the ballot through a referendum, some favorable newspaper support, and a feeling by some that two terms were enough for Herbert Maw. Two major state issues during the election were liquor law enforcement and permitting liquor sale by the drink, a measure strongly opposed by the Mormon Church. Other issues included general opposition to the Clegg-Vest labor statue, which was a Utah counterpart to the national Taft-Hartley Act, and public welfare.
With Dwight D. Eisenhower leading the Republican party ticket, for the first time since Herbert Hoover and the 1928 election a majority of Utahns voted for the Republican candidate. The retired World War II Supreme Commander received 194,190 voted to 135,364 for Adlai M. Stevenson. With over 58 percent of the vote, Eisenhower represented a radical shift for Utah, which had given strong support to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman during the previous quarter of a century. However, a shift away from the Democratic party had been evident in 1950 when Republican Wallace Bennett won a victory over the veteran New Dealer Elbert D. Thomas in the Senate contest of that year.
In the 1952 Senate race, incumbent Republican Arthur V. Watkins, who in 1946 had beaten the incumbent Democrat Abe Murdock by 101,000 votes to 96,000, defeated Democratic challenger Walter K. Granger by a count of 177,435 votes to 149,598. In the First Congressional District, Douglas Stringfellow, running on his record as a wounded World War II hero, easily defeated Ernest McKay, 76,545 to 49,898. However, before his term was over, Stringfellow confessed to having fabricated much of his war record and resigned just before the 1954 election. In the Second Congressional District, Utah's first congresswomen, Reva Beck Bosone, was defeated by William A. Dawson, who she had unseated in 1948. Bosone had won by a large vote of 93,770 to 68,693 in 1948; she was defeated by Dawson in 1952 by a vote of 105,296 to 95,084. Bosone had been expected to win reelection easily, and analysts attributed her loss to the Republican deluge in 1952. With two Republicans in the House and two in the Senate, this marked the first time since 1914 that Utah's entire congressional delegation was Republican.
In the governor's race, Republican J. Bracken Lee won a second term with a 180,516 to 147,188 victory over Earl J. Glade. Lee, considered one of the most conservative politicians during a very conservative time, was strongly opposed by organized labor and education but still won an easy victory over Glade. The Republican trend was also evident in the state senate and house, and in most county and district elections.
The Eisenhower/Republican victory came about for several reasons: Eisenhower's war record and the confidence that Utahns had in him dealing with the Soviet Union; a very high percentage of young voters who, wearing "I Like Ike" campaign buttons, voted for Eisenhower; concerns that the Democrats were promoting socialism through such programs as the Truman Health Plan; the unpopularity of the Korean War, for which Utah National Guard units had been called up by Truman and which, voters felt, Eisenhower could end quickly; charges of corruption against the Truman administration; the feeling that it was "time for a change," since the Democrats under Roosevelt and Truman had been in control for twenty years; and the fear that the intellectual Stevenson, who admitted that he did not have all the answers, was not the best choice.
A Republican-dominated election through and through, the 1956 campaign in Utah was one of the most colorful in Utah history and three men contended for the position of governor-George Dewey Clyde, L.C. Romney and J. Bracken Lee. Lee, described by some as the most colorful and controversial public figure in Utah politics since statehood, had served two terms as governor, having been elected on a Republican ticket in 1948 and 1952. He led a field of four candidates at the Republican nominating convention, but it a direct primary runoff, Lee finished second to George Dewey Clyde, an engineer and director of Utah's Water and Power Board, who had come in second at the nominating convention. Despite his earlier statements eschewing a third term, Lee decided to enter the race as an independent, claiming there was no real difference between the Republican Clyde and the Democrat Romney. As an independent, Lee finished a strong third with 94,438 votes (which was 28.3 percent of the vote) to 111,297 for Romney (33.4 percent) and 127,164 (38.2 percent) for Clyde.
Lee had won the vote of the conservative, anti-government, anti-tax bloc, but he found no support with teachers and educators, whom he labeled as self-serving and self-invited guests at the public trough. He had alienated the Mormon Church authorities by vetoing a 1954 Sunday closing bill, offended organized labor by signing a right-to-work bill, and displeased the farmers by vetoing a bill providing them a tax rebate on off-highway gasoline use. He was anathema to most Republican party officials because he threatened to give the election to the Democrats by dividing the Republican vote and because he failed to cooperate with other party leaders, including bypassing them in making political appointments. Lee, who had campaigned on a slogan of "economy, efficiency, and honesty" in government, was hurt politically when lax practices in the liquor control commission and state employee financial contributions to his campaign were exposed. With a popular Republican in the White House, Clyde had strong appeal for many voters because of his experience in water issues, which was timely because of the current Colorado River reclamation projects.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had won in Utah by a significant margin over Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952; his victory over Stevenson in 1956 was even greater. With 215,631 to 118,364 votes, Eisenhower's 64.7 percent of the total vote was nearly a six percent improvement over that of 1952. In 1952 Eisenhower had designated Apostle Ezra Taft Benson of the Mormon Church to the be Secretary of Agriculture, the highest political appointment for a Mormon to that time. In foreign affairs, as the Middle East crisis over the Suez Canal threatened, Eisenhower was seen as a careful and experienced leader who could keep the country out of war.
In the Senate race, incumbent Wallace F. Bennett won reelection to a second term with 178,261 to 152,120 victory over Democrat Alonzo F. Hopkin, a long-time Utah legislator and livestock raiser from northeastern Utah. In the congressional races, Republicans Henry A. Dixon and William A. Dawson each won reelection with substantial victories over Democratic candidates Carlyle F. Gronning (74,107 to 47,533) and Oscar W. McConkie, Jr., (119,683 to 87,970). The Utah state senate and house of representatives remained solidly Republican, with ratios of twenty-five to ten and forty to twenty-three, respectively.
Whereas the 1956 election had been dominated by the controversial three-way contest for governor, the 1960 election saw a patchwork of issues, contests, and charges that enlivened the campaign on several fronts. Although Richard Nixon carried Utah in his unsuccessful bid to move from vice-president to president, his margin of victory was far below that given Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. With 205,361 votes to 169,248 votes for John F. Kennedy, Nixon's 54.7 percent was ten percent lower than that given to Eisenhower in 1956. Both presidential candidates spoke in Salt Lake City, and John Kennedy's speech in the Mormon Tabernacle, with references to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Mormon scriptures, and even praise for Republicans Reed Smoot and Ezra Taft Benson, seem much more effective than the cordial but less specific remarks by Richard Nixon. Both candidates met with Mormon Church president David O. McKay, and, while the eighty-six-year-old, lifelong Republican told Kennedy that the Mormon Church would support him if he were elected, he told Nixon that he hoped he would be the next president. His comments implied, for some, an endorsement for Richard Nixon by the Mormon Church. However, in a subsequent statement, McKay clarified that, while he had wished a fellow Republican success, this did not constitute a church endorsement for Nixon and Mormons who favored Kennedy should vote for him.
J. Bracken Lee was not a factor in the 1960 election, and he suffered humiliating defeat at the state Republican convention in an unsuccessful attempt to be named a delegate in the national convention. However, he had played a key role in the 1958 senatorial campaign, running as an independent candidate in a three-way race that saw incumbent Arthur V. Watkins defeated by Democratic newcomer Frank E. Moss. With a vote of 112,827 for Moss, 101,471 for Watkins, and 77,013 for Lee, it was clear that the conservative vote was split between Watkins and Lee, giving the victory to Moss. Watkins was especially bitter because he believed that Lee had entered the race out of spite for Watkin's role as chairman of the Senate select committee that censored outspoken Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.
Democratic good fortune continued as Democrats N. Blaine Peterson and David S. King were elected to the House of Representatives. King, representing the Second Congressional District, won reelection with a 120,771 to 116,881 victory over Sherman P. Lloyd. Two years earlier, he had defeated three-time incumbent Republican William A. Dawson by a vote of 91,213 to 87,234. In an extremely close First Congressional District contest, Democrat N. Blaine Peterson beat Republican A. Walter Stevenson by 68 votes, 65,939 to 65,871.
Republicans did hold on to the governorship with the sixty-nine-year-old George Dewey Clyde winning reelection by a 52.7 percent margin (195,634 to 175,855) over thirty-nine-year-old St. George mayor William Barlocker. Barlocker appeared to have the election in hand but his popularity dropped as rumors of moral misconduct circulated; he also was ineffective in public debates and Republicans increased their attacks on his competency. Republicans promoted Clyde as an experienced, responsible, trusted, and efficient, if sometime dull, public servant.
In the state legislature, Democrats, who had regained control of both houses in the 1958 election, maintained control with a margin of thirty-six to twenty-eight in the house and fourteen to eleven in the senate.
For the first time since 1948, Utah voters gave a majority to the Democratic presidential candidate, Lyndon B. Johnson. John F. Kennedy's vice presidential running mate, who became president when Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963, Lyndon Johnson might be considered an incumbent, and his 219,628 votes to the 181,785 votes for Barry N. Goldwater gave a 54.7 percent victory for Johnson and his "Great Society" over the conservative Goldwater. Nationally, the American voters gave Johnson 61.4 percent of the vote, so the Utah vote for Johnson was nearly six percent behind the national average. Some analysts attributed Goldwater's better showing in Utah to local support for Ronald Reagan, whose nominating speech for Goldwater at the Republican national convention was broadcast several times in Utah.
Democrat Frank E. Moss won his bid for a second term to the United States Senate, decisively defeating Ernest L. Wilkinson, who took a leave of absence from his position as president of Brigham Young University; the vote was 227,822 to 169,562. The Moss victory coupled with Wallace F. Bennett's successful campaign for a third term in 1962, with 166,755 votes to 151,656 for David S. King, maintained a balance for Utah of one Republican and one Democrat in the United States Senate. The balance also was reestablished in the House of Representatives when David S. King defeated Republican Thomas G. Judd 149,754 to 110,512 for the Second Congressional District seat, while Republican Laurence J. Burton won his second term from the First Congressional District, beating William G. Bruhn 75,986 to 59,768.
After sixteen years of Republican domination in the statehouse, a Democrat, Calvin L. Rampton, was elected governor of Utah by a vote of 225,956 against 171,300 for Mitchell Melich. In the Utah legislature, Democrats maintained a comfortable margin over Republicans, with a thirty-nine to thirty margin in the house and one of thirteen to ten in the senate.
With the exception of Calvin L. Rampton winning election to his second term as governor, Utah went with the Republicans in the major races during the 1968 election. Richard M. Nixon easily defeated Hubert H. Humphrey, who became the Democratic standard-bearer when President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to run for reelection. Nixon's 238,728 votes to Humphrey's 156,665 gave him 54.6 percent of the Utah vote and began an unbroken string of Utah victories for Republican presidential candidates that has continued through the 1992 election. Conservative candidate George Wallace of the American Independent party polled 26,906 votes, which was 6.4 percent of the total vote.
All three candidates appeared in Utah and spoke in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Hubert Humphrey's 30 September visit was perhaps the most significant. He had been jeered by hecklers at other campaign stops but met with enthusiastic response from his supporters in Salt Lake City. After his Tabernacle speech he went to a Sale Lake City television studio and told a nationwide audience that he favored halting the bombing of North Vietnam. Salt Lake City marked a turning point in the Humphrey campaign. Throughout October and up until the election Humphrey began to close the gap in his race with Nixon, but he lost to the Republican by just over one percent of the popular vote.
Wallace F. Bennett won election to his fourth and final term in the United States Senate with a 225,075 to 192,168 margin over Democratic contender Milton L. Weilenman. In the House of Representatives, Laurence J. Burton won election to his fourth term in the First Congressional District with 139,456 votes to 65,265 for Democrat Richard J. Maughn. In the second Congressional District, Republican Sherman P. Lloyd also won by a large margin-130,127 to 80,948 for Galen Ross. However, the largest total vote in Utah when to Calvin L. Rampton, who received 289,283 votes to 131,719 for Republican businessman Carl W. Buehner. Utahns, who claimed to vote for the man and not the party, proved themselves true, at least in the case of Calvin L. Rampton-nearly one-third of the voters scratched their ballots to vote for a Democratic governor after voting for a Republican president. Rampton's 68.7 percent of the vote was nearly fourteen percent more than that cast for Richard Nixon.
During the 1966 election, Democrats had lost control of the Utah legislature. Twenty-nine Democratic representatives and eleven senators went down to defeat; the new alignment put fifty-nine Republicans against ten Democrats in the house and twenty-three Republicans against five Democrats in the senate. Democrats made somewhat of a comeback in the 1968 election, but the Republicans continued to dominate, with forty-eight seats to twenty-one in the Utah house of representatives and twenty to eight in the senate. Liquor by the drink, the proposal to license private establishments to dispense wine and alcohol, made its appearance as an initiative on the November ballot. Proponents argued that less stringent liquor laws would boost tourism; but, with LDS Church opposition to the measure, it was defeated by a vote of 320,000 to 97,000.
Calvin L. Rampton won an unprecedented third consecutive term as Utah's governor with almost seventy percent of the vote. He defeated his Republican opponent, Nicholas G. Strike, by a vote of 331,998 to 144,449. In the presidential contest, Republican Richard M. Nixon made a strong showing, defeating Democrat George McGovern by a popular vote of 323,643 to 126,284. Nixon won 67.7 percent of the vote, increasing by thirteen percentage points his 1968 total. Nationwide, Nixon's margin was 62 percent; he won all but the state of Massachusetts.
There was no local senatorial contest in the 1972 election; however, Democrat Frank E. Moss was elected to his third term in 1970 with a 214,000 to 159,000 victory over Republican challenger Laurence J. Burton. Democrats took both of the congressional seats. Incumbent K. Gunn McKay defeated Robert Wolthuis by a 127,027 to 96,296 vote count to gain a second term in the First congressional District. Wayne Owens defeated Republican incumbent Sherman Lloyd 132,832 to 107,185 votes to capture the other congressional seat. However, Republicans did win control of the Utah State Legislature, holding margins of forty-four to thirty-one in the house and sixteen to thirteen in the senate.
The conservative American Independent party ran candidates for the two congressional seats and for president of the United States. John G. Schmitz received 28,549 votes (six percent) of the Utah total for president while party congressional contenders did not do as well. Leonard S. Brown polled 6,043, which was 2.8 percent of the vote in the First Congressional race, and Bruce R. Bangerter received 3,685 votes, or 1.5 percent of the vote, in the Second Congressional District.
In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon, Republican candidate Gerald Ford won a substantial victory in Utah, polling 336,467 votes to Jimmy Carter's 181,979. While Ford's margin of victory over Carter in Utah was 62.3 percent to 33.7 percent, nationally Ford lost to Carter by a slim two percent margin in the popular vote.
After three terms as Utah's governor, Calvin L. Rampton chose not to run for reelection. Scott M. Matheson, an attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad, continued the Democrat's hold on the governor's office by defeating Republican Vernon Romney 279,455 to 246,392. In the U.S. Senate race, three-term Democratic incumbent Frank Moss lost his bid for a fourth term to Republican Orrin Hatch by a vote of 288,842 to 241,006. This gave Republicans both of Utah's Senate seats. Following the retirement of Senator Wallace Bennett in 1974, former Sale Lake City mayor Jake Garn defeated Democrat and one-term congressman Wayne Owens by a vote count of 210,000 to 185,000.
In the two congressional races, K. Gunn McKay won reelection to a fourth term in the First District by defeating Republican Joe Ferguson 147,255 to 106,009. In the Second Congressional District, Democrat Allen T. Howe was defeated in his bid for a second term by Republican Dan Marriott. In the three-way race, Marriott gained 143,851 votes, Howe 104,513, and fellow Democrat Daryl McCarty was written in by 20,689 voters. The entry of McCarty into the race as a write-in candidate came after Congressman Howe's arrest and conviction in Salt Lake City for soliciting sex for hire during the summer of 1976.
The Utah Legislature continued under Republican control with a forty to thirty-five seat majority in the house and one of seventeen to twelve in the senate. Included among the Democratic representatives were the first Afro-American, Reverend Robert Harris, and the first Hispanic, John Ulibarri-both elected from districts in Weber County. Voters also approved a Utah constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to eighteen years old to be in line with the twenty-sixth Amendment to the United State Constitution, which was ratified in July 1971.
Because of the efforts of right-wing activists, three initiative proposals were on the ballot. Despite strong opposition by dentists and the medical community, voters approved the "Freedom from Compulsory Fluoridation and Medication Act," which prohibited the Utah State Board of Health from adding fluorides and other medications to any public water supply. The two other proposals-one authorizing the recall of an elected or appointed public officer for any reason, including political reasons, and the other, which imposed an annual budget ceiling while phasing out the receipt of federal revenues-were both defeated.
Republican Ronald Reagan received nearly three-quarters of the Utah presidential vote, with 439,687 votes (72.8 percent of the vote). The incumbent president and Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, polled only 124,266, votes, or 20.6 percent of the votes cast. Carter received nearly 58,000 fewer votes in Utah than he had in 1976, and he dropped 13 percent from his figure in the election four years earlier. The tremendous Republican victory came because of disillusionment with Carter and also due to the great popularity of Ronald Reagan in Utah. Nationally, Reagan won by a 10 percent margin. Yet Reagan won in all twenty-nine Utah counties, although by only three votes in the traditionally Democratic stronghold of Carbon County.
Democratic Governor Scott M. Matheson proved to be a popular governor, winning reelection to a second term by 330,974 votes to 266,578 for Republican Bob Wright. Matheson widened his margin of victory from 52 percent in 1976 to more than 55 percent in 1980, and his victory once again demonstrated the willingness of a majority of Utahns to cross party lines in voting for candidates for the major offices.
In the United States Senate race, Republican E.J. (Jake) Garn won reelection to a second term with a huge victory over Democratic candidate Dan German-437,675 votes to 151,454. Garn's 73.6 percent of the vote was one of the largest percentages ever gained for a United States Senate seat from Utah. The two House of Representatives elections also went to Republicans. James V. Hansen defeated Democrat K. Gunn McKay's bid for a fifth consecutive term from the First Congressional District with a vote of 157,111 to 144,459. In the second district, Republican Dan Marriott won his third consecutive term with an easy 290,765 to 194,885 victory over Democratic challenger Arthur L. Monson.
In the Utah State Legislature, Republicans continued their control, with fifty-seven to eighteen seats in the house and twenty-two to seven seats in the senate. Utahns defeated two tax initiative proposals: one that would have removed the sales tax from food, and another that would have placed a ceiling limit on property taxes. Voters also defeated a proposition that would have raised compensation for state legislators from twenty-four dollars a day to forty dollars a day, even though Utah's legislative compensation ranked forty-eighth in the nation. Two constitutional amendments did pass: one provided that the governor and lieutenant governor would belong to the same party; the other removed a constitutional prohibition against work-release programs for prisoners as well as employment of women in mines.
Ronald Reagan continued to be Utah's favorite president since it obtained statehood, winning the 1984 election with 469,105 votes (74.5 percent) over Democratic challenger Walter Mondale, who polled 155,369 votes. When Scott Matheson decided not to run for a third term as Utah's governor, Wayne Owens was nominated by the Democrats to succeed Matheson. However, Owens lost the election to the Republican Norman H. Bangerter, a home builder, real estate developer, and two-term Speaker of the Utah house of representative. Bangerter won with 351,792 votes to 275,669 for Owens. While there was no Senate contest in 1984, two years earlier Republican Orrin Hatch won reelection to a second term with a 308,332 vote to 219,482 vote margin over Democrat and former Sale Lake City mayor Ted Wilson.
In 1982 Utah was given a third seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Brigham Young University professor Howard C. Nelson won election to it. Nelson won reelection to a second term from the Third Congressional District with a large margin-138,918 votes to 46,560-over Democrat Bruce R. Baird. In the First Congressional District, incumbent James V. Hansen won reelection to a third term with 142,952 votes compared to 56,619 for Democrat Milton C. Abrams, former director of the Utah State University Library and chair of the Utah Board of State History. In the Second Congressional District, incumbent Dan Marriott did not run; but Republicans held onto the seat with a slim victory of 496 votes for David S. Monson over Democratic contender Francis Farley (105,540 to 105,044 votes). Farley had lost to Marriott in 1982, but her campaigns in 1982 and 1984 represented the first women candidate for Congress since Reva Beck Bosone in 1952 and set the stage for a two-women race for the seat in 1992.
In the Utah State Legislature, Republicans widened their margin over what it was in the 1980 with a sixty-one to fourteen margin in the house and a twenty-three to six count in the senate. Voters approved a proposition that changed the legislative session from a sixty-day general session in odd years and a twenty-day budget session in an even year to an annual forty-five day session. The right to bear arms was strengthened by a proposal that outlined that that right could not be limited. Voters rejected by a vote of 364,873 to 233,082 a controversial cable television regulation initiative that sought to deal with indecent and obscene materials.
Although not as popular with Utah voters as was Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Reagan's two-term vice-president, easily won the 1988 presidential election in Utah with a 428,442 to 207,343 vote count over Democrat Michael Dukakis. While nationwide Bush won eight percent more of the vote than Dukakis, in Utah his margin over Dukakis was twenty-six percent.
In the governor's race, incumbent Norman H. Bangerter won a come-from-behind victory over Democratic challenger Ted Wilson, with 260,462 votes to 249,321. Incumbent Republican Orrin Hatch won reelection to his third term in the United States Senate by defeating Democratic challenger Brian H. Moss 430,089 votes to 203,364. Two years earlier, in 1986, incumbent E.J. "Jake" Garn won reelection to his third term in the Senate with a 314,608 to 115,523 count over Democratic challenger Craig Oliver.
In the United States House of Representatives, all three incumbents won reelection: James V. Hansen gained his fifth term in the First Congressional District with a victory over Democrat Gunn McKay by 130,893 votes to 87,976; Democrat Wayne Owens in the Second Congressional District defeated Republican Richard Snelgrove 112,129 votes to 80,212; and Republican Howard Nielsen won his fourth election in the Third Congressional District with 129,951 votes to Democrat Robert W. Stringham's 60,018 votes. In the Utah State Legislature Republicans prevailed with a forty-eight to twenty-seven seat majority in the house and a twenty-two to seven seat count in the senate.
Remarkable aspects of the 1992 election included the poor showing in the state by two major Democratic candidates, the significant decline in support for incumbent George Bush, the popularity of independent candidates Ross Perot and Merrill Cook, and the increased participation of women as candidates. Both Bill Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who defeated Republican incumbent George Bush in the national election, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stewart Hanson finished third in Utah. Clinton received 182,590 votes, or 25 percent of the Utah total. A strong showing by Ross Perot with 202,796 votes (twenty-seven percent) put the independent candidate in second place in Utah, making Utah the only state in the nation where Perot came in second and Clinton third. George Bush won the election in Utah with 320,858 votes, which was 43 percent of the total. Nevertheless, Bush had lost considerable popularity in Utah-he received over 108,000 fewer votes in 1992 than he had in 1988. Clinton polled nearly 25,000 votes less than had Dukakis in 1988, indicating that Perot was the recipient of strong support by voters discontented with both parties.
The governor's race was a three-way contest between Republican Michael Leavitt, Democrat Stewart Hansen, and independent Merrill Cook. Leavitt won the election with 320,015 votes (42 percent of the total), but Cook finished strong with 254,960 votes (34 percent of the total). Democrat Stewart Hanson won only 176,404 votes, or 23 percent of the total.
Senator Jake Garn decided not to seek a fourth term, and following a close contest in the primaries against fellow Republican Joseph Cannon, Robert Bennett defeated Wayne Owens to win the United States Senate seat which had been occupied by his father, Wallace Bennett, from 1951 to 1975. Bennett won with 417,993 votes to 300,111 votes for Owens, who had vacated his congressional seat, which he had held since the 1986 election, to run for Senate. However, trouble with overdrafts growing out of the House bank scandal hurt Owens.
The Second Congressional District race proved most interesting, as both parties ran female candidates. Democrat Karen Shepherd won election, defeating Republican Enid Greene 127,543 to 118,103 votes. Shepherd became the second woman congressperson in Utah's history and the first woman elected since Reva Beck Bosone in 1950. In the First and Third congressional districts incumbents won by substantial margins. James V. Hansen won a seventh term from the First District, defeating Ronald Holt by 159,601 votes to 68,547. Democrat Bill Orton won in the Third District with a 133,909 to 83,009 vote count over Richard R. Harrington.
Utahns also elected their first women as attorney general and lieutenant governor. Democrat Jan Graham narrowly defeated Republican Scott Burns by 362,805 to 356,751 votes to become Utah Attorney General. Olene Walker won on the Republican ticket with Mike Leavitt in a race in which all three contenders for lieutenant governor-Olene Walker, Frances Hatch Merrill (Independent), and Paula Julander (Democrat)-were women.
In the Utah State Legislature, Republicans continued their control of both houses with a forty-nine to twenty-six margin in the house and an eighteen to eleven margin in the senate. An initiative to legalize pari-mutuel betting on horse races failed by a vote of 449,052 to 296,529.
Disclaimer: Information on this site was converted from a hard cover book published by University of Utah Press in 1994. Any errors should be directed towards the University of Utah Press.