But beyond the personal aspects of such political campaigns – which ended this year in last Tuesday’s elections – there is the wide variances of participants in different parts of the state and the disappointment of seeing so few voters making the selections.
Tuesday’s primary also shows the problems that Utah Democrats have in many parts of the state.
Take, for example, just two such legislative races: Reps. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley, and Brad Daw, R-Orem.
Both entrenched incumbents lost their seats Tuesday.
Hendrickson was a fixture in the House, serving since 1990.
Daw is newer, first elected in 2004.
Both were well-respected by their colleagues, with Daw being chair of the House’s Transportation Standing Committee and Hendrickson sitting on the House Rules Committee.
West Valley City, which used to be a safe haven for Democratic lawmakers, is become a playing field for the majority Republicans.
And it may be a tough call for Liz Muniz, who defeated Hendrickson Tuesday, to hold on to District 33. She faces GOP attorney Craig Hall in November.
Long-time legislator Brent Goodfellow, who served both in the House and Senate, was defeated in his West Valley Senate seat in 2010 by Sen. Dan Thatcher, R-West Valley.
Daw, meanwhile, was taken out by Dana Layton in his newly-drawn Orem City District 60. Layton is a media/TV independent producer and marketer.
For political wonks the two races show the advantages and pitfalls of Utah’s convention/primary system.
Just take a look at the differences in voters in both races.
The Muniz/Hendrickson voters together added up to only 499 people, that in a House district redrawn last year to 36,800 people.
The Daw/Layton primary drew 4,034 voters and has about the same number of constituents.
Republicans hold closed primaries, so you have to be a registered Republican Party member to get a primary ballot.
If you are an independent you can sign up to be a Republican at the polls, and so vote in that primary.
Utah Democrats hold open primaries, any registered voter can get a Democratic ballot.
Admittedly, Tuesday’s primary was more appealing to Republicans – there was a U.S. Senate race, and attorney general and auditor races on the ballot, and the Mitt Romney presidential primary, as well as the Daw/Layton contest in Orem.
So it is natural that more Orem Republicans would go to the polls than West Valley City Democrats, where there was no important ballot question other than the Hendrickson/Muniz contest.
But still, the House 60 race saw nearly 10 times the number of voters than did the House 33 race.
For Muniz and Hendrickson, they could very well personally have known all the 499 people who voted in their race.
Daw and Layton had to do more general voter turnout.
The Daw/Layton primary was basically the final election. Democrat Emmanuel Kepas, a high school business teacher, filed for the seat. But Utah County hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Utah House for 20 years or more.
The November vote in House 60 is a formality unless something very strange happens in Orem.
Republican Hall, however, has a real shot at the House 33 seat.
While Layton and Muniz victories Tuesday show that one can challenge a legislative incumbent and win, for the most part Utah’s caucus/convention/primary system still shows that incumbents by far are re-elected if they chose to run again.
History shows that between 80 percent to 90 percent of legislative incumbents who seek re-election win. One usually enters the 75-member House or the 29-member Senate via retirement, resignation or death of the incumbent.
In the Senate this year, nine sitting senators were challenged within their party, and only one – freshman appointee Sen. Casey Anderson, R-Cedar City, lost. Fifteen Senate seats are up every two years.
So through the convention and primaries, 88 percent of the senators who sought re-election this year have won.
In the House, where all 75 seats are up every two years, 24 incumbents were challenged within their own party. Sixteen have prevailed so far. Seven of those incumbents lost, either in convention or in Tuesday’s primary.
Thus through the primary, 11.2 percent of House incumbents have lost their seats. Or 89 percent have won. A few more House members could be defeated in the general election.
Certainly one more loss is coming: In newly-drawn House District 30, Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley, is up against Rep. Janice Fischer, D-West Valley.
Several of the convention/primary losses were mid-term appointees (like Anderson) and so didn’t really have the power of an entrenched incumbent.
(UtahPolicy counted the House District 29, where Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, was lumped through redistricting in the same district with Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, as two incumbents being challenged within their party, an incumbent winning and an incumbent losing. Perry beat Galvez Tuesday night in the GOP House 29 primary.)
Utah County representatives were really impacted by turnover this year – mostly through retirements, but through some losses as well.
Nine of the 14 incumbent House members whose districts are entirely or partly in Utah County either decided not to run this year, lost in the primary, or ran for a higher office, thus taking them out of the House. Two, Daw and Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, lost Tuesday.
Few, if anyone, would have said two years ago that the Utah County all-GOP House delegation would see 64 percent turnover in 2012.
One can safely say that that 64 percent turnover won’t increase in the November election. Some of the GOP House candidates don’t have a Democratic opponent; the others are safe in one of the most Republican counties in the nation.