Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion stance ex­pected to help in Ari­zona, but hurt in Utah

The Washington Post - - THE FED PAGE - james.hohmann@wash­ Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­ pow­er­post JAMES HOHMANN

Don­ald Trump’s hard-line po­si­tion on im­mi­gra­tion is the main rea­son he is fa­vored to win the Ari­zona Repub­li­can pri­mary Tues­day— and lose the Utah cau­cuses.

The chasm be­tween the neigh­bor­ing states on this is­sue is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

In Ari­zona, Trump has the strong sup­port of Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio and for­mer gov­er­nor Jan Brewer (R), who signed the con­tro­ver­sial SB1070 lawin 2010. Last sum­mer, dur­ing a rally in Phoenix, Trump said il­le­gal im­mi­grants “flow in like wa­ter.” His best-known prom­ise is to build a bor­der wall and make Mex­ico pay for it. Nine months af­ter he started talk­ing about it, crowds still went wild when he brought it up across the state last week­end.

But just to the north, in Utah, nearly two-thirds of the pop­u­la­tion is Mor­mon. Many served on mis­sion trips over­seas, in­clud­ing to Latin Amer­ica, when they were young. The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints set­tled there to es­cape per­se­cu­tion in the East. As a re­sult, religious tol­er­ance and in­clu­sive­ness are cen­tral tenets of the faith. That makes many Mor­mons acutely un­com­fort­able with Trump’s call for ban­ning Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the United States.

When 26 Repub­li­can gov­er­nors an­nounced that Syr­ian refugees were not wel­come in their states last fall, Utah’s Gary Her­bert, who is Mor­mon, was the lone Repub­li­can gov­er­nor to de­clare that his state would ac­cept them.

“The LDS church has spent years lob­by­ing for ‘com­pas­sion­ate’ im­mi­gra­tion re­form,” McKay Cop­pins, him­self a Mor­mon, wrote on Buz­zFeed. “In 2011, church lead­ers of­fered a full-throated en­dorse­ment of ‘ the Utah Compact,’ a state leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tive that dis­cour­aged de­port­ing oth­er­wise law-abid­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants and of­fered a path to res­i­dency for fam­i­lies that would be sep­a­rated by de­por­ta­tion. Th­ese proim­mi­grant at­ti­tudes are com­mon among rank-and-file be­liev­ers.”

Trump has fared ter­ri­bly in ar­eas where Mor­mons con­cen­trate— Ne­vada, Wy­oming and Idaho.

His con­tro­ver­sial call for a ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the coun­try has been pop­u­lar among ma­jori­ties of Repub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers in exit polls. Not so in Utah. Matt Miles, a political sci­en­tist at a satel­lite cam­pus of Brigham Young Univer­sity, which is con­trolled by the Mor­mon Church, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Trump’s call for a ban on Mus­lims is a huge is­sue and stirs fear among the faith­ful. The news­pa­per notes that a Trump spokes­woman made the prob­lem worse when, de­fend­ing the pol­icy, she mis­tak­enly re­ferred to the fed­eral govern­ment shut­ting down “Mor­mon churches,” when she ac­tu­ally meant the Fun­da­men­tal­ist-Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-Day Saints, a break­away sect that prac­tices polygamy.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has mo­men­tum in Utah. Mitt Rom­ney an­nounced Fri­day that he will cau­cus for Cruz and called on his sup­port­ers to vote for the sen­a­tor in forth­com­ing con­tests.

The chal­lenge for Cruz in the Bee­hive State is get­ting past 50 per­cent, which would en­ti­tle him to all 40 avail­able del­e­gates. Oth­er­wise, the del­e­gates are di­vided pro­por­tion­ally.

The Trump cam­paign has ba­si­cally writ­ten off Utah; the goal is just to pre­vent Cruz from get­ting past 50 per­cent.

How bad is Trump’s Mor­mon prob­lem? The De­seret News, owned by the Mor­mon Church, ran a story on the front page of its Sun­day news­pa­per say­ing that Hil­lary Clin­ton would prob­a­bly carry Utah if Trump wins the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion. “I be­lieve Trump could lose Utah. If you lose Utah as a Repub­li­can, there is no hope,” for­mer Utah gov­er­nor Mike Leav­itt (R) told the pa­per.

It’s more than im­mi­gra­tion. Mor­mons, while not mono­lithic, also re­sent Trump’s lack of deco­rum and man­ners. “His bla­tant religious il­lit­er­acy, his pen­chant for on­stage curs­ing, his habit of fling­ing crude insults at women, his less-than-vir­tu­ous per­sonal life and widely chron­i­cled mar­i­tal fail­ures— all of this is anath­ema to the whole­some, fam­ily-first life­style that Mor­monism pro­motes,” Cop­pins notes in his Buzz Feed piece.

What’s more, Cruz could score an up­set in Ari­zona. Polls this month have Trump ahead by 12 to 14 points, but the sam­ples were small.

Here are five fac­tors that keep Ari­zona in reach for Cruz:

It’s be­come es­sen­tially a twoman race. Be­cause it’s win­ner-take-all, Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich has not re­ally cam­paigned in the state. So we’ve got the clos­est thing to a head-to-head matchup of any pri­mary this year.

Cruz has a su­pe­rior ground game. Neu­tral ob­servers say his team is a lot more or­ga­nized than Trump. His state di­rec­tor elected many Repub­li­can mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture.

It’s a closed pri­mary, mean­ing only Repub­li­cans can vote. Trump has strug­gled in those pri­maries.

Cruz has scored late en­dorse­ments. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) an­nounced his sup­port Sun­day.

Cruz is per­ceived as strong on bor­der se­cu­rity. He vis­ited the Mex­i­can bor­der Fri­day and pledged to se­cure it as pres­i­dent. But early vot­ing and high turnout are a prob­lem for Cruz. Trump prob­a­bly locked in a siz­able lead when Sen. Marco Ru­bio (Fla.) and oth­ers were still in the race.

The stakes: A Cruz sweep, with all the del­e­gates from Ari­zona and Utah, would make it much harder for Trump to se­cure the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion be­fore the con­ven­tion in July. It would also give the sen­a­tor from Texas mean­ing­ful mo­men­tum go­ing into Wis­con­sin on April 5 and then a rel­a­tively quiet pe­riod on the cal­en­dar af­ter that.

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