Down-ballot races to watch on Tuesday

Most of the election day focus in Utah will be on the white-hot contest in the 4th Congressional District as Republican Mia Love tries to fight off a strong challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams. But, there are some legislative races further down the ballot worth keeping your eyes on.

Democrats likely won’t come close to breaking the Republican supermajority in the House and the Senate, but they might be able to pick up a few seats on Capitol Hill. Here are some of the races to pay attention to on Tuesday.

Senate District 8

This is the seat Republican Brian Shiozawa abruptly resigned from in 2017 to take a position with the trump administration. He was replaced by Sen. Brian Zehnder who won the GOP nomination this year to finish out Shiozawa’s term. Zehnder is facing a stiff challenge from Democrat Kathleen Riebe, who is on the Utah State Board of Education. United Utah Party nominee John Jackson is in the mix as well, and he could play the spoiler by siphoning votes away from Zehnder.

Shiozawa won this district in 2016 with 57% of the vote, but this is the best chance for Democrats to pick up a seat in the upper chamber this year. Hillary Clinton won the district with 45% of the vote.

Senate District 9

Republican Kirk Cullimore is the odds-on favorite to replace retiring Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. There’s no Democrat on the ballot here as the party’s nominee withdrew and they were unable to nominate a replacement. Cullimore’s opponent is United Utah nominee Alexander Castagno. If Castagno can get close to the 39% of the vote that the Democrat got in 2014, that will be a significant moral victory for the UUP.

Democrats are running Monica Zoltanski as a write-in candidate.

Senate District 12

Democrats have been aching to win back this seat since Republican Daniel Thatcher took it from Brent Goodfellow in 2010. Thatcher is facing a rematch against Democrat Claire Collard. He won the 2014 election over her by 16 points. Thatcher should win the rematch on Tuesday. Green Party candidate Abrian Velarde could hurt Collard’s chances of pulling the upset.

House District 9

Republican Calvin Musselman and Democrat Kathie Darby are battling to replace Jeremy Peterson, who decided to retire after three terms. Darby may have a chance to pick up this seat as Peterson won his last two elections with just 56 and 55 percent of the vote. However, this district has fairly strong Republican DNA. President Donald Trump won here in 2016 with 46% and independent Evan McMullin got 17.25% of the vote. Hillary Clinton got just 29%.

House District 10

Another open seat as Republican Dixon Pitcher is retiring after four terms. Republican Lorraine Brown and Democrat Lawanna Shurtliff are on the ballot here. Terry Schow, who lost the GOP nomination to Brown, is running as a write-in candidate. If Schow splits the Republican vote with Brown, Shurtliff could pull the upset.

House District 20

Yet another open seat following the retirement of longtime Republican Becky Edwards. Republican Melissa Garff Ballard and Democrat Ryan Jones are vying to replace her. This is a fairly solid Republican district. Edwards won her last two elections with more than 70% of the vote. But, it’s more of a moderate GOP seat as Donald Trump only got 40% of the vote here in 2016.

House District 22

Democrat Susan Duckworth is perennially thought to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats on the Hill, and every election cycle she keeps her seat. In 2016, she won re-election by 4 points. In 2014, two conservative candidates split the vote and she won with 52%. That 2014 race could be instructive here as she’s facing a tough challenge from Republican Barbara Stallone, but Constitution Party candidate Marilee Roose and Libertarian Amber Beltran are also on the ballot. Those two could siphon votes away from Stallone, giving Duckworth her sixth term.

House District 24

Jen Dailey-Provost won a four-way Democratic primary to replace the retiring Rebbeca Chavez-Houck. She should be favored, but Utah Republicans think they have a shot at pulling the upset this year as their nominee is Scott Rosenbush, who was previously a mayor in New Jersey. He is a longshot, though, as this is a solid Democratic seat. Hillary Clinton got 69% of the vote here in 2016. The only district where she got a higher percentage of the vote is HD25, currently held by Rep. Joel Briscoe.

House District 31

Democrat Elizabeth Weight knocked off Republican Sophia DiCaro in 2016 by just 240 votes. In 2014, DiCaro beat incumbent Democrat Larry Wiley by just 195 votes, which makes HD24 a true swing district. This year Weight faces Republican Fred Johnson and United Utah candidate Brian Fabbi in a three-way contest. Hillary Clinton did well here in 2016, pulling in 43% of the vote, while independent Evan McMullin got 18%. If Fabbi ends up pulling a percentage or two away from either candidate, that could be the deciding factor.

House District 32

This one is the prize for Democrats. Suzanne Harrison came within 5 votes of defeating Republican LaVar Christensen in 2016. She’s back, but Christensen isn’t. This time Harrison faces Republican Brad Bonham and United Utah nominee Bjorn Jones. It’s a fairly solid Republican district. Donald Trump got 43% here in 2016.

House District 33

Republican Craig Hall won his 2016 election by just 119 votes. Hillary Clinton won this district over Donald Trump in 2016 by 13 points, which is why Democrats have targeted this seat as a takeover opportunity for the last few cycles. Hall faces Democrat Ira Hatch.

House District 37

This one shouldn’t be much of a contest,. Longtime Democrat Carol Spackman Moss usually crushes all-comers, but her Republican opponent this year is former Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health David Sundwall. Spackman Moss outperformed Hillary Clinton in this district by 13 points in 2016, as Clinton only carried 45.9%. Evan McMullin pulled in 17%, which suggests if Sundwall can keep Republicans from crossing over and voting for Spackman Moss, he could make this more of a contest than in the past. But, that’s a tall hill for him to climb.

House District 40

Longtime Democrat Lynn Hemingway is retiring in this very strong Democratic district. Hillary Clinton won HD40 in 2016 with 56%. Democrat Stephanie Pitcher should win the contest to replace Hemingway, but she’s facing a challenge from Republican Peter Kraus and Independent American nominee David Else.

House District 43

Republican Cheryl Acton, who replaced Adam Gardiner, is hoping to win a full term in the House. She faces Democrat Diane Lewis and Libertarian Shawn Curtis. Gardiner carried the district in 2016 by 23 points. However, Donald Trump only got 37% of the vote here while Evan McMullin got 23%.

House District 44

Republican Bruce Cutler fended off two very strong challenges from Christine Passey the last two cycles. Cutler won by 53 votes in 2014 and by 277 votes in 2016. This time around Cutler faces Democrat Andrew Stoddard. This was a very strong district for Hillary Clinton in 2016, when she won with 41% of the vote. That could mean another close call for Cutler.

House District 46

Marie Poulson is vying for her 6th term in the House. In 2016 she crushed her only opponent, Libertarian Lee Anne Walker by 52 points. But, in 2014, she defeated her Republican opponent by 12 points, while Walker pulled in 4-percent. Look for Walker to spoil any chance for the GOP upset here again as this is a fairly strong Democratic district. Hillary Clinton got 47% here in 2016.

House District 49

Republican Robert Spendlove is running for his third full term. Spendlove won his last two elections by 14 points. The wild card this time is United Utah Party candidate Mark Russell who joins Democrat Anthony Sudweeks in challenging Spendlove. If Russell is able to pull enough votes away from Spendlove, he could open the door for a Democratic upset here.

House District 51

Republican Jeff Stenquist faces United Utah candidate Michelle Weeks in this race to replace retiring House Speaker Greg Hughes. There is no love lost between Stenquist and Weeks who served together on the Draper City Council. Weeks was accused by her colleagues on the council of using government resources for personal use. Those charges came after Weeks decided to run against Draper Mayor Troy Walker. The allegations were later dismissed as politically motivated. Weeks has a very steep challenge as this is an overwhelmingly Republican district. Hughes carried it by at least 30 points in each of the last two elections.

House District 54

Freshman Republican Tim Quinn won the seat by 5 points in 2016. He faces Democrat Meaghan Miller. This was a fairly good district for Hillary Clinton in 2016. She got 40% of the vote while Donald Trump pulled in just 41%.