Here’s an Obscenely Early Look at Utah’s 2016 Elections

We just finished the 2014 campaign, but it’s never too early to start thinking about 2016.

Here’s a very preliminary rundown of what we can expect to see in Utah’s big races two years from now.

U.S. Senate – Sen. Mike Lee is the incumbent, but he’s expected to get a challenge for the GOP nomination. Josh Romney, former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright are some of the names being bandied about as possible rivals. You might see former Rep. Jim Matheson jump into this race if he decides to return to politics.

Congressional District 1 – Rob Bishop will be the heavy favorite if he wants to run for another term. Democrat Donna McAleer ran her guts out in 2012 and 2014 and barely made a dent, which shows this seat is probably a lost cause for Utah’s minority party.

Congressional District 2 – Most political observers in Utah expected Rep. Chris Stewart to get a strong challenge for the GOP nomination after the controversial way he secured the nomination in 2012. That didn’t happen this year and he cruised to a win over Democrat Luz Robles. It will be a major upset if anyone other than Stewart wins this seat in 2016.

Congressional District 3 – After blowing out hapless Democrat Brian Wonnacott, Rep. Jason Chaffetz can pretty much do anything he wants. The smart money is on Chaffetz running to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch when he retires in 2018.

Congressional District 4 – Mia Love bested Doug Owens by a little more than 4,200 votes. Unless she completely falls on her face, it’s going to be extremely difficult for anyone else to win in this district. Owens may make another run at her in 2016, but that will be a tough hill to climb now that she’s the incumbent.

Governor – Gary Herbert will be going for his third election win after victories in 2010 and 2012. Everyone and their mother expected former Speaker Becky Lockhart to challenge Herbert, but she shocked the Utah political community by applying to be the State Superintendent (which she did not get). Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board for Overstock.com, has already hired GOP campaign guru David Hansen to possibly run his campaign. Democrat Jim Matheson could also make a run for this seat, but it’s unlikely given Herbert’s approval ratings which are hovering just above 70%.

Attorney General – Sean Reyes cruised to a win on Tuesday night. If he can stay away from scandal, he probably can keep this seat as long as he wants.

Salt Lake County Mayor – A lone bright spot for Utah Democrats as Ben McAdams is likely going to run for another term. It’s for certain he will have a Republican challenger, but McAdams is clearly in the drivers seat heading into 2016.