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How the Utah Republican Party Chair is feeling on election night

Donkey and Elephant symbols represent the Democratic and Republican parties.
Kelly Sikkema

Tom: Let's bring in the chairman of the Utah Republican Party, Carson Jorgensen. Mr. Jorgensen, thanks for joining us.

Carson: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Tom: You bet. So Tom Williams here with Damon Cann, who's a USU political science professor, and if you heard us there, we were just discussing Mike Lee-Evan McMullin race. Let's start there. What do you expect? And how big are… I assume you're expecting a Senator Lee victory? How big a margin?

Carson: Absolutely. We're looking at 13,14. That's the numbers we've been seeing all along. And we're confident that the numbers stay there.

Tom: So that's what you've been seeing. Mr. McMullin has gotten the national Democrats all excited. But you're saying pour some water on that?

Carson: Yeah, no, absolutely. We've been pulling this and watching this for as long before this race happened. And this is the number we continually saw all the way along and we don't expect anything to change.

Tom: What are the races? What are you particularly looking at?

Carson: You know, the Salt Lake County races are the big ones we're keeping an eye on. Those are the ones that are kind of up in the air right now, depending on Republican turnout; Republican turnout has been through the roof. We're glad to see them turn out. And we're really excited for how the numbers are looking.

Tom: Were you concerned about turnouts, or did you see that coming? A big turnout?

Carson: No, we saw a big turnout. And we really put a lot of effort into our get out the vote efforts to make sure that we had high turnout and to make sure that this was all there.

Tom: What issues? Was there one or two issues that resonated with Republican voters?

Carson: You know, inflation is the number one issue, that is continually the number one issue at the top of the slate. And that's the issue that continues to drive voters to the polls.

Tom: Yeah. I don't know, Damon Cann, do you have a question?

Damon: Certainly, you know, I don't want to disrupt what's shaping up to look like a good night for Republicans in Utah, and to distract with a focus on two years down the road. But some people in Donald Trump's orbit are suggesting that he may make an announcement about his intentions for 2024 soon. Where do you first see Utah Republicans looking for candidates and their support for potential candidates in the presidential election that kicks off in earnest here in just a couple of weeks?

Carson: Sure. You know, it's going to be hard to tell. It's too early to say right now. I mean, it really is going to depend on the slate of candidates that enter that race. But President Trump still has an immense amount of support throughout Utah. So it's going to be a very interesting one to watch play out.

Tom: Looking nationally. Mr. Jorgensen, what are you thinking is likely to happen? I think the polls are probably showing Republican control of the House and Senate. What are the margins, do you think?

Carson: You know, we're hoping to have a two-seat margin in the Senate. And I don't even remember where we were projected for the House, but we're looking at a double digit lead in the house as well. And that's what we're watching here tonight.

Tom: What about the legislature? At a gain or status call for Republicans there?

Carson: We're hoping to keep the Senate where we're at and maybe pick up one seat, that's going to be a hard play. But in the legislature in the house, we're looking to pick up three seats, possibly those are all in Salt Lake and Davis, Weber County, and we're really focusing on those races here.

Tom: What's the mood like there at, I think you're at the Hyatt Regency, are you?

Carson: Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited, Republicans are excited. We're seeing good numbers come in. They started rolling in early here. Well, late, but early. We're really really liking what we're seeing so far.

Tom: Well, thank you so much for spending a little bit of election night with us. Carson Jorgensen, Chairman of the Utah Republican Party. Thank you.

Carson: You bet. Thank you for having me.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.