Utah Republican State Convention Results
By Andrea Smardon
Salt Lake City, UT – Senator Orrin Hatch won a majority of delegate votes, but not enough to avoid a primary. Delegate and state representative Ronda Rudd Menlove says she's glad that voters will get a chance to choose between Hatch and former state Senator Dan Liljenquist.
"We've seen excitement at this convention that we haven't seen before, more and more young people engaged, " said Menlove, "These races - they will excite the public. They'll feel like there is some reason to be engaged in the process, which I think has been lacking. "
Attorney general candidates John Swallow and Sean Reyes will face off in a primary. And State Auditor Auston Johnson, will have to overcome a challenge from former state Rep. John Dougall. Republican voters will not have to decide on who will represent them in The Governor's race, since Gary Herbert got 63 percent of delegate votes, narrowly avoiding a primary. He did have to listen to criticism from all five opponents - who castigated him for increasing state spending, for not doing enough to gain control of public lands, and for supporting the federal Common Core education program.
"Do not be misled on this issue," said Herbert, "I'm a firm supporter of parental involvement and choice. That's why I vetoed the sex education bill. Let's not take our eye off the ball. We'll continue to fight against federal government, but we're not going to lose our focus on Utah's economic recovery."
Utah Foundation President Steve Kroes says the delegate votes in the Governor's race and the Senate race reflect their polls of Republican voters across the state.
"Over and over again, what we're seeing this year is that the Republican delegates are more representative of the Republican voting population," said Kroes, "That's got to be a result of the vastly increased attendance at caucus meetings this year."
The surprise this year is that there will no primaries for congressional candidates. As expected, incumbent Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Robert Bishop easily got enough delegate support to avoid a primary. But no one predicted the overwhelming support for Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love as the congressional candidate to face off against Jim Matheson in the 4th district. Love got 70 percent of the delegate votes, avoiding a primary with former state Representative Carl Wimmer - who had led the field in fundraising. Love - who would be the first African American woman to represent Utah in Congress - argued she has the best chance to beat Matheson.
"Because of who I am and where I come from I can win those votes, the independents, the moderates, the women votes, the people who have kept Jim Matheson in office for a dozen years, through six elections, I can persuade them to come along with us," said Love.
District 2 started with a full slate of 11 candidates, but delegates ultimately chose author Chris Stewart - who will face Democratic nominee Jay Seegmiller.