There was no large massing of Joe Biden partisans in downtown Ogden when media vote counters called Pennsylvania and the U.S. presidential race for the Democrat.
GOPers hold sway in Weber County, and his national success notwithstanding, Biden lagged far behind President Donald Trump in the vote count here and across Utah. It’s been a heated, divisive race.
Whatever the case, when projections showed Biden surpassed the 270 electoral vote threshold on Saturday to win, seemingly dousing Trump’s reelection hopes, it spurred a strong response from those who have been intimately invested in the matter.
“I’m personally thrilled to see an end to the Trump administration,” said Pam Harrison, who led formation of Indivisible Ogden in the wake of Trump’s election in 2016, part of a nationwide response against Trump, the Indivisible movement.
She’s not as active in Indivisible Ogden as she was back in early 2017, when the group started taking shape. Even so, her heart remained with the push. “Lead the resistance — that part of it didn’t leave me, the opposition to the Trump administration,” she said Monday.
Oscar Mata, a local Democrat who lives in Harrisville and served as secretary of Biden’s reelection effort in Utah, felt a sense of comfort. “I think it’s a relief that we’re going to have empathy, morality and compassion back in the White House,” he said.
Mata, who stuttered when younger, drew inspiration from the former vice president’s own efforts to overcome stuttering. “It was very personal for me to see him elected,” said Mata, who unsuccessfully vied this election cycle for the District 8 seat in the Utah House.
On the other side of the aisle, Utah Rep. Steve Waldrip, a Republican from the Eden area, offered congratulations to Biden and expressed hope that he works with GOPers. Waldrip, incidentally, holds the District 8 seat and had faced the challenge from Mata in voting that culminated Nov. 3.
“Recent years have seen attempts by both sides to undermine the sitting president from the moment they take office. This. Must. Stop,” Waldrip wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “It was wrong when it was done to (former President Barack) Obama and wrong when it was done to Trump. Our best hope as Americans is to have a fully functioning executive branch, not one whose legitimacy is continually challenged for four years. Whoever is in the Oval Office deserves our allegiance, and it is in our best interests as Americans to get behind our president.”
To be sure, most in Weber County, like in Utah as a whole, voted for Trump. The Republican presidential hopeful had garnered 64,066 votes here, 59.1% of the total, to 39,652 for Biden, or 36.6%, according to unofficial totals posted Monday on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office website. Statewide, Trump had garnered 781,358 votes, 58.3% of the total, to 505,250, 37.7%, for the Democrat.
The heads of the Weber County Republican and Democratic parties said they weren’t aware of any demonstrations or activities for or against either Biden or Trump.
Zach Thomas, head of the Democratic party, said he senses a feeling of relief with Biden coming out on top in the national vote. “People are very excited for a new chapter in America,” he said.
Lacy Richards, head of the Republican Party, shied from direct comment on the outcome in the presidential race but lauded the Democratic process, the ability of voters to elect who leads the country. “Regardless of outcome, it always makes me so grateful we have that opportunity in the United States,” she said.
On the bright side from the GOP perspective, she noted that the Republican Party is poised to potentially hold on to control of the U.S. Senate. With Biden’s win, Democrats would hold the presidency and the U.S. House. “I think that balance is going to be a good thing,” Richards said.
‘COME TOGETHER’Waldrip joined a handful of other GOPers in heavily Republican Utah in offering congratulations to Biden. Trump has alleged, without solid proof, that voter fraud unfairly deprived him of victory. He hasn’t conceded the race.
“While there are appropriate legal challenges remaining to ensure that every legitimate vote is counted, it is increasingly clear that there is no evidence of widespread fraud or conspiracy and that we will have a change in the presidency,” Waldrip said on Facebook. “We must come together as Americans and support our new president and administration.”
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican, tweeted his congratulations to Biden and Kamala Harris, the vice presidential pick. “We know both of them as people of good will and admirable character. We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead,” he said.
In his own tweet, Utah Governor-elect Spencer Cox, also the Utah lieutenant governor, thanked Biden and Harris “for your commitment to unite us all. We pray for you and promise to work with you to benefit the people of Utah,” he said.
Not everyone was so conciliatory. In a Facebook post last Friday, Greg Hughes, former speaker of the Utah House and an ardent Trump backer, noted the strong support Trump still has and called for respect for the point of view of the president’s backers.
“Again, a record number of American people supported and voted for our president because of the good that he has done. These individuals see their lives and this country measurably better because of his leadership,” Hughes wrote. If Trump’s “legion of antagonists cannot stop foaming at the mouth long enough to understand the sincere expression of support for President Donald J. Trump from what is now a record number of people in America and respect their voice, then THEY are the true authors of the hate and divisiveness in this country.”