Top Tips for East Coast Staffers Campaigning in Utah for the First Time

BookWe get it. You bought the line that political consultants in Utah don’t know what they’re doing, so you hired an out-of-stater to parachute in and carry you over the finish line.

In the spirit of good, old fashioned friendliness, we’ve compiled a list of helpful hints so your guys and gals won’t misstep on their first foray into Utah politics – I mean, their first time into Utah, period.

Here is your handy, dandy guide. You’re welcome.


  • Don’t shop on Sunday.
  • If you must shop on Sundays, wear sunglasses. And for pete’s sake, don’t wear your candidate’s campaign shirt to the store.
  • Avoid like the plague the grocery store line between 11 PM and Midnight on Saturday. Or Costco on Saturday.
  • Yes, City Creek has all the great stores. No, they are not open on Sunday.
  • In Utah 99% of Macey’s mentions are the grocery store, 1% are the department store. So when someone mentions a meat deal at Macey’s, they are in no way referencing Lady Gaga.


Get to know and love these Utah faves:

  • Fry sauce
  • Scones
  • Navajo tacos
  • Funeral potatoes
  • Green Jell-O
  • Bear River raspberries
  • Brigham City peaches
  • Turkey from Moroni
  • Howie’s rootbeer
  • Apple Beer. No, really.


  • You can buy a drink in Utah. If you sit down somewhere and order food. And show 25 forms of ID.
  • The Zion Curtain has to do with alcohol, not religious observances in the temple.
  • Slurpees are an acceptable form of ‘drinks after work.’
  • See above recommendation for Apple Beer.

Language lessons

  • Don’t forget to add the middle initial to the name of every Mormon leader. No one knows who Parley Pratt is. Or Gordon Hinckley or Tom Monson, for that matter.
  • Pick up a town pronunciation guide before you embarrass yourself or experience a serious tongue injury.  Tooele, Hurricane, Eureka, Hooper, Oquirrh  – they don’t sound like they look.
  • Remember.  In Utah, the ‘t’ is strictly ornamental, like in “Mountain” for example.
  • It’s Utahn, not Utahan.  Seriously. I don’t care what Google says.
  • Flip, fetch, freak, heck, gosh, shiz and geez are mostly acceptable swear words. The other ones are not. ESPECIALLY not in public.


  • Know the difference between the City-County Building and the Salt Lake Temple.
  • Stake Centers: appropriate for pickup basketball, but not a steak dinner.
  • Campaign blackouts the first weekend in April or October, Sundays, or Monday evenings. No calls, no fundraising, no door knocking. No nothing.
  • Everything political comes with two different sets of instructions. “When in Salt Lake County” and “When not in Salt Lake County”
    • Don’t wear blue in Salt Lake county and don’t wear red in Utah county. Purple is out some places, too. Be safe. Stick to earth tones.
  • Outside of Utah, a swallow is a cute little bird.  Inside Utah, it is a poisonous snake who was probably the one in the garden of Eden
  • Tahitian Noni is not the Polynesian dance that the BYU football team does before the game.
  • If you say you feel sick at a campaign event, someone WILL offer you an essential oil that can fix that.
  • Don’t crack Utah jokes. You’re an outsider. You can’t pull it off  (unless you’re Jeff Foxworthy, then feel free).
  • We don’t stop for little snowstorms that drop 6 inches, so buck up and go knock some doors.

And the NUMBER ONE tip for East Coast staffers:

  • Don’t run against a black female conservative former mayor, with a top-notch campaign team and fundraising prowess. You ain’t got a snowball’s chance… Moab.


Thanks for the top-notch suggestions from experienced politicos Curt Bentley, Daniel Burton, Karen Peterson, Shon Harris and John English. 

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