Mitt Romney did not win the Republican nomination outright for a Senate seat in Utah yesterday. He was hoping to have avoided the run-off altogether by winning 60% of the votes at the state’s Republican convention, and now faces campaigning for a June primary election.
Though Romney was, and remains, a favorite in the race, his failure to secure the Republican nomination without an election was not the oddest occurrence at the convention.
The Salt Lake Tribune described the scene as “a marathon of odd candidates, voting errors and delegate curveballs.” The electronic voting system had hiccups. One candidate used a carpetbag as a prop (his point was that Romney had moved to Utah at a later point than other candidates). And then there was Brian Jenkins. Or, as his name appeared in his declaration of candidacy, “Abe Lincoln Brian Jenkins.”
As you may have guessed, Jenkins campaigned for a seat in the US Senate while dressed as Abraham Lincoln, complete with a beard and a top hat.
— Vote Utah (@ElectionsUtah) March 15, 2018
“I bring the same money, the same system, the same concepts and ideas—especially about money—that Lincoln brought so long ago,” Jenkins told Fox News. He drew often dubious parallels to himself and Lincoln on his campaign website. (“I sometimes feel that abortion today has a parallel to slavery in Abraham Lincoln’s day,” begins one item).
Elections have always drawn fringe candidates with odd and entertaining schticks (paywall). But the election of Donald Trump, a reality-TV star whose campaign tactics were mocked by opponents right up until they worked, creates a case for taking them more seriously. Would Utah’s Republican convention cast a significant number of votes for a candidate who built his platform around a physical resemblance to the 16th president?
Well, No. At Saturday’s Republican convention, only two of the 12 candidates made it to a second vote. On the second vote, 50.88% of votes went to Utah congressman Mike Kennedy, and 49.12% went to Romney.
Jenkins, meanwhile, appears to be launching a career as a Lincoln impersonator.