Don’t expect Chris Herrod to catch John Curtis when outstanding ballots are counted

According to rough numbers given to UtahPolicy by state election officials – and some math by me – Chris Herrod would have to get more than two-thirds of the remaining votes to be counted in Tuesday’s 3rd District GOP primary to beat Provo Mayor John Curtis.

And that just ain’t going to happen.

Mark Thomas, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and director of the Utah Elections Office, said Wednesday morning that according to “rough” numbers he’s seen, Utah and Salt Lake County clerks still have to count about one-third more ballots than were totaled Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

You can see from the “final but not official” ballots that have been counted so far, Curtis has 18,898 votes, Herrod 13,674 votes and independent businessman Tanner Ainge is third with 12,234.

As of Wednesday morning, 44,806 ballots have been counted.

You work out the math and Herrod would have to catch up to Curtis (with Ainge getting no more votes at all) and then win 50 percent plus 1 of the rest.

All that equals out to 67 percent or more of the remaining votes would have to go to Herrod, none to Ainge, for Herrod to win the GOP 3rd District nomination.

Even though Thomas estimates that the “vast majority” of uncounted votes are in Utah County – which is Herrod’s strongest area – that’s just not going to happen.

By an official count due at 3 p.m. Friday we should know for sure, says Thomas, but it is clear that Herrod has too much ground to gain to beat Curtis.

As of this writing, Herrod has not conceded, although Curtis has claimed victory.

As you see by Tuesday night’s county-by-county tally, Curtis is actually ahead of Herrod in Utah County – so Herrod’s strongest areas are not even going to him so far.

Curtis waited a bit last spring before jumping into the race to replace former-Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who let it be known that he was not only not running again, but would likely leave office early.

He resigned the end of June, but possible 3rd District candidates started scrambling and announcing months before that.

The race turned out to be an interesting one: With Curtis the former Democrat, more moderate, popular mayor of Utah’s third largest city against Herrod, the former state House arch-conservative firebrand, and Ainge, the rich newcomer who moved into the district just last November and wasn’t even a registered Republican until after he announced.

Around $1 million in outside Super-PAC money came into the state, mostly in negative radio and TV ads against Curtis and Ainge, and in favor of Herrod.

Herrod may have had a shot at this from the right-wing of the Utah GOP, if not that Curtis was a popular mayor from a city in the heart of Utah County and the 3rd District – which includes the east side of Utah County and Salt Lake County, and parts or all of Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan and Wasatch counties to the east and south.

Herrod’s loss is another blow for the arch-conservative wing of the Utah GOP – which failed to elect one of their men to the party chairmanship in the spring, and lost some key votes on the governing, 140-member state Central Committee, as well.

GOP right-wing state delegates have already lost the support of GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, who endorsed Curtis (a long-time personal friend) several weeks ago, before Tuesday’s primary.

Curtis now faces Democrat Kathie Allen and United Utah Party’s Jim Bennett, son of the late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, in the November special 3rd District election.