Genius Panel: What to Watch for in Tuesday’s Primary Election

blue 01This Week’s Question: Tuesday is Utah’s primary election. What races/issues will you be watching? Any predictions?

Steve Handy, state representative. Come Tuesday, I’ve got my sights set on several aspects of this primary election cycle:

1—Turnout…The end of June date is odd, and I’m hoping with a gubernatorial race that voters will turn out and won’t be too distracted with summer activities, but I’m worried.

2—Vote By Mail…What will the effect of VBM be? All indications are that more will vote, and I certainly hope so.

3—SB 54-Count My Vote…Wow, the survey this week was telling, it’s not really an issue among voters, and Gov. Herbert says the subject never comes up. I’m betting that in fact Herbert will win handily and reverse the results of the State Republican Convention pointing to the fact that many state delegates are not representative of the larger voting public. “Houston, we have some problems.”

4—Legislative Races…I’m very interested in my colleague Rep. Becky Edwards’ race. She’s an outstanding legislator and has been needlessly attacked by outside groups, but I expect her to win comfortably. I’m also watching the Bramble-Herrod race. I predict that Curt Bramble will win out. Rich Cunningham and Lincoln Fillmore is a “no holds barred” dogfight garnering significant publicity and what will happen is anyone’s guess.

5—Davis County Commissioner…The race between Steve Hiatt and Randy Elliott is spirited and intense. They’re both good guys, but I expect Hiatt to win. He’s the mayor of Kaysville and is well known and respected among the establishment.

6—Weber County Commissioner…Jim Harvey and Caitlin Gochnour is an interesting race between a long-time Republican participant and Weber County official and a moderate and successful former Ogden City councilwoman who has never run in a partisan race and was pressured by the establishment to get out. It comes down to caucus-convention or signature gathering. Both would be really good commissioners, but I expect Gochnour to eke out a victory.

After Tuesday, I’ll be gearing up for my own race in November. It can’t come and go too quickly!

Theresa Foxley, attorney and deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. As the architect of the grand S.B. 54 compromise, I’m watching the Curt Bramble race very closely. I expect a solid Bramble victory and hope the result quiets the “convention only route” critics of Bramble, Weiler, etc. 

As co-chair of the House committee our office reports to, I’m also watching the Becky Edwards House race. Rep. Edwards has been a voice of reason on economic development issues, and all would benefit from her retaining the Economic Development gavel in January. 

Of course, I’ll be enthusiastically waiting for the results of the gubernatorial race. It goes without saying that I believe Gov. Herbert is the better candidate. And moreover, I’m keenly interested in seeing how the rejection by Republican voters of the State Republican Convention result breathes new life into the Count My Vote initiative. 

Val Oveson, former state auditor, lieutenant governor and National Taxpayer Advocate. Gov. Herbert has done an excellent job and deserves to win the primary election. The governor has had a steady hand on the wheel and as a conservative has represented the interests of all the people of the state very well. For all the noise and carping from Johnathan Johnson, I predict the Governor wins by a wide margin.

Dan Liljenquist, former state senator and U.S. Senate candidate. I must say that I love June primaries, if only because dragging the campaign season all the way through the summer and into August would constitute cruel and unusual punishment for all involved, the candidates and the voters.  This year, I am following several races with interest, including the Herbert vs. Johnson race, Chaffetz vs. Teng race, and a handful of legislative races.  Speaking from personal experience, it is tough to knock off incumbents, and I expect that incumbents, including Herbert and Chaffetz, to fare well.  Although, with low voter turnout, I could easily be wrong.

On the legislature front, I’ve been following the State Senate races closely.  I expect Senators Bramble and Fillmore will survive their intra-party challenges.  I also expect Dan Hemmert to prevail against Morgan Philpot in the race to replace Sen. Al Jackson.  I don’t expect many surprises Tuesday night.

Alan Matheson, director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Tuesday’s election presents an interesting, albeit imperfect, experiment testing whether party delegates represent the rank-and-file voters from their party.  Several races pit winners from the convention against candidates who earned spots on the ballot by gathering signatures as provided in SB 54.  Whatever one’s view on the relative merits of the caucus process and direct elections, it will be interesting to see how convention results compare with primary election results.  I suspect we’ll hear Tuesday night victory speeches from some candidates who lost at the convention.  

Todd Weiler, attorney and state senator. Everyone will be watching the race for governor. Herbert will win by a wide margin.  Johnson’s supporters will blame his defeat on “uninformed voters” and vote-by-mail. 

I’ll be watching two state Senate races: Fillmore v. Cunningham, and Philpot v. Hemmert. Both races will likely be decided by the turnout in the governor’s race. 

Cunningham lost to Fillmore at the convention and relied on signatures to force a primary. Fillmore was chosen over Cunningham and a number of other candidates last December to replace Aaron Osmond. Cunningham has been in the state house for four years, and Fillmore had a strong freshman session in the Senate. 

Philpot was in the house a decade ago. He pursued a law degree out of state and ran against Jim Matheson for Congress in 2010. In 2012, Philpot ran for governor but failed to make it out of the convention.  Hemmert is a newcomer and owns a chain of dry cleaners. 

Mark Bouchard, senior managing director, Southwest Region, CBRE Utah. The Governor’s race is most interesting:

Despite the political rhetoric from both Republican campaigns, Gov. Herbert is grounded in his understanding of the challenges, and more importantly the solutions for our state moving forward. Hopefully, the citizens of Utah will elect an experienced statesman, which is what I believe is necessary to deal with the complicated issues of today’s times in Utah.

The various State School Board races:

This looks like a battle between supporters of the Common Core and those opposed. The current chair of the State Board of Education is fighting this very issue. There may not be anything more misunderstood by so many than the topic of Common Core. The outcome of these school board races could be pivotal in defining Utah education and standards for the next decade.

Finally, one Congressional seat is fascinating to me:

The incumbent takes great pride in telling us how many people he’s gotten fired.  Certainly, the environment in Washington is not ideal, and some may even suggest toxic. I’m not one of those, however. I’m not sure running on a platform of “firing” people is the intellectual stimulation the citizens of Utah benefit from.

Nolan Karras, former Utah House speaker, gubernatorial candidate, and current education reformer. I’m watching all races with SB54 ramifications. In the general election, Mia Love could lose in a low turnout.