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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 21, 2016

Today in New West news: Utah fastest growing state in U.S., an update on the U.S. House race in Montana, and FDA approves new drug from Boulder oncology firm.

Per new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah is the fastest growing state in the country in terms of population. Between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, the Beehive State saw its population rise 2.03 percent—pushing it up to 3,051,217 residents. From the Tribune:

Nevada was second fastest-growing state, at 1.95 percent, followed by Idaho (1.83 percent), Florida (1.82 percent) and Washington (1.78 percent).

Officials attributed the growth to a blend of natural in-state population increases (its birthrate, though dipping, continues to lead the nation) and an ongoing spike in net in-migration.

While below growth rates seen before the Great Recession, Utah’s 2.03 percent jump represented an addition of 60,585 people, with nearly 42 percent of that number made up of newcomers moving to the state.

“That’s an amazing thing for Utah,” said Pam Perlich, director of demographics at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, describing it as part of a three-year “crescendo” in in-migration, driven partly by a stellar economy.

“This is not a rip-roaring, booming rate of growth,” Perlich said. “This is a moderate, sustainable rate of growth that is kind of the new normal coming out of this recession.”

Ten states saw net gains that were larger, the Census Bureau said.

Utah has now vaulted ahead of Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas to become the 31st most populous U.S. state.

A separate population analysis by state officials reveals that Utah County gained more residents than Salt Lake County last year and that Washington County is seeing a return of in-migration by retirees, after a post-recession lull.

“Those are some very pervasive indications that we’re back on a growth path in Utah, again,” Perlich said, “not a booming rate of growth but sustainable growth.”

Up in Montana, we previously reported that State Senator Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) had announced his intention to run for the state’s lone U.S. House seat should current representative Ryan Zinke (R) be confirmed as Interior Secretary in the upcoming administration. There was also speculation that Zinke’s 2016 challenger, Denise Juneau, would run in the special election. Now, according to the Billings Gazette, a new raft of names have surfaced from both parties. On the Democratic side, State Senator Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) has announced she would seek the nomination. Meanwhile, District Judge Russell Fagg and Bozeman-area builder Eugene Graf IV have expressed interest in running as Republicans. From the Gazette:

Curtis said she’s “been having conversations with folks who would like to see me do it, and with my family. It’s a life-changing situation whether you win or lose.”

She was the Democratic Party’s replacement candidate in Montana’s 2014 U.S. Senate race. Her campaign launched mid-August after Democratic Sen. John Walsh withdrew after being caught in a plagiarism scandal.

With less than two months before Montanans began voting by absentee ballot, Curtis went from being a relative unknown to capturing 44 percent of the popular vote. For perspective, Democratic candidate Denise Juneau received 41 percent of the vote in her bid to unseat Zinke this year.

Most of the committee people who selected Curtis in a four-candidate nominating convention in 2014 would be making the selection again this year.


A district judge for 22 years and a former Republican Montana legislator, Russell Fagg, said he has eyed a congressional run for years. Now, with his children grown, the time seems right.

“I am considering running for the special election Congressional seat,” Fagg said. “Many factors to consider, including my family, my current position, which I love, and where I can best serve in the future. I’ve been talking to people I respect and praying about it.”

Fagg, who describes himself as a right-of-center conservative, would have to decide whether running for U.S. House was worth resigning as a Yellowstone County District Court. It’s a decision Fagg said he would have to make before culling favor with central committee members in advance of a party nominating convention.

Fagg also pens a monthly “Ask the Judge” column for The Billings Gazette. In fairness to other candidates, he would no longer be allowed to contribute to The Gazette should he choose to run.

Bozeman builder Eugene Graf IV pushes the list of potential Republican candidates to six. Graf is a past president of the Montana Building Association and Southwest Montana Building Industry Association. He is the fifth generation of a Bozeman business family that has over the years developed more than 4,000 parcels in the Gallatin County.

Finally, over in Colorado, according to the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder-based Clovis Oncology Inc. has had its new ovarian cancer drug (rucaparib) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug, administered in tablet form, is meant for patients with advanced cancer who have endured two rounds of chemotherapy. From the Camera:

“NOCC commends Clovis Oncology for its commitment to bringing a new treatment option to women living with ovarian cancer, the deadliest cancer of the female reproductive system,” David Barley, CEO of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition in a statement. “The development and FDA approval of therapies for use in third-line is a promising step forward for the tens of thousands of women who will battle ovarian cancer in their lifetime.”

Clovis is also exploring the drug’s effectiveness in treating prostate cancer, Clovis officials said in a conference call Monday afternoon.

In the interim, cancer experts were pleased with the FDA’s approval.

“Ovarian cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect. For this reason, most women who develop ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced disease,” said Sue Friedman, DVM, executive director of Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, in a statement. As a result, she said, “There is a tremendous need for new ways to treat women with advanced ovarian cancer.”

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