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Jen Plumb wins Utah State Senate primary over Sen. Derek Kitchen by 61 votes

Derek Kitchen, left, faced off against Jen Plumb in the District 9 State Senate primary.
courtesy of the candidates
Derek Kitchen, left, faced off against Jen Plumb in the District 9 State Senate primary.

In the nail-biting District 9 race, candidate Jen Plumb won the Democratic nomination for the Utah Senate seat over incumbent Derek Kitchen by just 61 votes. Two weeks after the primary election, Salt Lake County certified the results on Tuesday.

“Words cannot begin to describe the amount of joy I’m feeling tonight,” Plumb said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m grateful to the residents of Senate District 9 for placing their trust in me!”

The race has been narrow from the start. On the day of the primary, Sen. Kitchen barely led Plumb by 100 votes. A few days later, Plumb pushed to the top and ultimately won. Despite a close race, Plumb garnered enough votes to prevent a recount — which could have happened in this case if the difference in votes between the two was equal to or less than 0.25% of the total vote.

Plumb, an ER doctor, won’t face a Republican challenger in November. Instead, she will be up against Vance Hansen, an unaffiliated write-in candidate. She promised to “deliver results” to the families and neighborhoods of District 9 if she wins the general election.

Kitchen conceded the race and congratulated Plumb on Twitter and threw his support behind her in the upcoming election.

“I made the commitment to work side-by-side with her to engage voters this November,” Kitchen said.

Even though Kitchen didn’t secure his seat, he emphasized the need for the continued support of “progressive candidates” that prioritize “working families, social and climate justice, and housing.”

The face-off for the state’s most liberal district was a rematch from the 2018 election when Kitchen beat Plumb with roughly 53% of the vote.

Kitchen, the only openly gay person in the Utah Legislature, replaced former Sen. Jim Dabakis following his resignation in 2018.

Updated: July 13, 2022 at 3:08 PM MDT
Added Jen Plumb's statement on her primary victory.
Saige is a politics reporter and co-host of KUER's State Street politics podcast
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