Tags: Harry Reid | Harry Reid | retiring | Mormon | Democrats

Mormons Lose Most Prominent Democrat With Harry Reid Retirement

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2015 01:19 PM

When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid retires at the end of his current term, Mormons will lose their most influential Democratic government leader.

The question is, given the Mormons' strong GOP leanings, will there ever be another like him?

Mormons are overwhelmingly Republican. Between 2007 and 2012, Pew Research Center found that the number of those identifying with the Republican Party rose from 66 percent to 74 percent.

By comparison, in the general population, Pew finds that 45 percent of registered voters identify as Republicans.

Pew notes that 16 members of Congress are Mormons.

All but two, Reid and Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, are Republicans, The Washington Post reports.

The Post said: "When Reid was first elected to Congress in the 1980s, about 70 percent of Utah Mormons voted Republican. By 2012, that figure reached 90 percent."

Reid predicted a Democratic rebirth among Mormons in a 2007 speech at Brigham Young University, saying, "It is not uncommon for members of the church to ask how I can be a Mormon and a Democrat. Some say my party affiliation puts me in the minority of our church members. But my answer is that if you look at the church membership over the years, Democrats have not always been the minority, and I believe we won't be for long.

"I also say that my faith and political beliefs are deeply intertwined. I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon, not in spite of it."

The Post said that the Mormon Church has backed liberal stances on immigration and LGBT legislation in recent years.

However, the Post also notes a generational growth in Mormon conservatism, with those over 65 listed as 51 percent Republican, while among those under 30, the GOP percentage rises to 69 percent.

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon told KSL-TV that Reid's congressional career shows that "you can be a good Latter-day Saint and a good Democrat at the same time, and serve your country faithfully."

Church elder Marlin K. Jensen told LDSDems.org: "There is sort of a division along Mormon/non-Mormon, Republican/Democratic lines. We regret that more than anything that there would become a church party and a non-church party.

"That would be the last thing that we would want to have happen."

Reid's support for liberal issues raised Mormon hackles several times, with Southern Utah University removing Reid's name from a building which bore it, KSL-TV reported.

In a recent flap, Mormon Bishop Mark Paredes blasted Reid, calling him an "embarrassment" to the church. He later apologized, but said he still opposed Reid's stance on the gaming industry and his "advocacy of a certain social agenda, not his political affiliation," the Salt Lake Tribune noted.

Yet, Mormon Democrats still have their hopes.

Mormon Democrat Crystal Young-Otterstrom wrote on Mormon Press.com that "Sen. Reid, to us, is that proof that we can be who we are as Mormon Democrats. We can be active, participating, believing temple-recommend holding members of the LDS Church AND active, participating, believing, card-carrying members of the Democratic Party."

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When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid retires at the end of his current term, Mormons will lose their most influential Democratic government leader.
Harry Reid, retiring, Mormon, Democrats
Monday, 30 March 2015 01:19 PM
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