There are two statewide primary elections on tap for June. Jonathan Johnson is facing Gov. Gary Herbert for the GOP nomination in that race. Democrats Jonathan Swinton and Misty Snow are squaring off for the right to take on Sen. Mike Lee for U.S. Senate.
Our "Political Insiders" expect Herbert to beat Johnson handily next month while they expect the race between Swinton and Snow to be a bit closer, with Swinton prevailing.
Johnson beat Herbert at the GOP convention 55-45%, giving him the edge heading into the June primary. However, the Republicans and Democrats on our "Insider" panel say Herbert should prevail next month. Our readers also say Herbert should best Johnson.
Swinton is expected to win the Democratic primary over Snow, who ran an effective insurgent campaign at the Democratic State Convention, forcing the primary. Swinton declared his candidacy to take on Lee last year but failed to beat the underfunded Snow in April. All three of our groups expect Swinton to come out on top, but our readers say the race could be a close one.
Selected anonymous comments:
"Once again, the primary will demonstrate how out of touch the caucus/convention system is with Utah voters. Even though Johnson is well funded and charismatic, Herbert will win by a large margin."
"The delegates were really ticked about SB54 and Herbert paid the price. If the Herbert people can highlight just how extreme JJ's libertarian agenda is, they should be ok."
"Gary Herbert will win the primary and the final election. He is an incredibly popular governor who has successfully managed the state during a time of great economic growth. The more people get to know Jonathan Johnson, the less they like him. His extremist positions and confrontational style may have won over 55 percent of delegates, but it's not consistent with the majority views of Republicans in our state."
"Misty Snow is unqualified for the office she is running for. Can you imagine that debate between her and Mike Lee?"
"Jonathan Johnson is so out of step with the rank and file of the party that he will be lucky to get 20% of the vote. I think that Herbert will really work hard to run up the score, and hopefully show the people of Utah that he has done a good job."
"Governor Herbert's campaign was poorly run, but he is one of the most popular Governor's in America and will handily defeat Johnson this June."
"Does it really matter who the Democrats choose for Senate?"
"Both Johnson and Snow represent the extremes of their parties (right and left, respectively); since most voters are NOT extremists, the primaries should bring sanity back."
"Herbert is up by 50 among the entire Republican field. I seriously doubt Johnson would be able to do anything significant enough to pull off a victory. I'd think a 2012 GOP Primary Result (66-34) result is likely. For Swinton and Snow, it's really an unknown, but I'd go with the person who has been in the race the longest in Swinton. Though Snow seems more progressive and, if she got the publicity, she might be able to become the favorite."
"Gary Herbert has much more popularity and name recognition which should help him in the Primary. Swinton had a six-month head start but still wasn't able to get it at the convention which signals he has some organization issues. If Snow was able to build a competitive campaign in a little over a month, then it signals that she has the organization, and the grassroots support she'll need to win."
"My guess is turnout will be low. If under 225k, bad news for Herbert. Over 300k and Herbert wins."
"Neither of these primary elections will be close."
"Herbert has the edge now, but Johnson will close the gap with an aggressive campaign and will win in a close primary."
"Despite his support from the crazy conservatives in the Utah GOP, Johnson will find it extremely difficult to attract regular conservative and moderate voters. Gov. Herbert will win easily."
"Johnson clearly took advantage of the anti-SB54 fervor that engaged the zealots (a.k.a. delegates.) It will not carry over to the primary. My prediction: Herbert 65%, Johnson 35%."
"I was surprised that Johnson won by the margin he did in the convention. He still has no chance in the primary. The public doesn't view signatures as a betrayal like some delegates; vouchers are a losing proposition among general Republican voters; and while they will split the take-back-public-lands crowd, Herbert will get almost all of the 40+% of Republicans who do not support the lawsuit."
"Jonathan deserves credit for running a great convention campaign. Unfortunately for him, his message and tactics are not as well suited for a primary campaign. Governor Herbert gets four more years, and it probably won't even be all that close."
"Hoping for Snow, but Swinton will get the nomination."
"Mainstream Republicans like Herbert and will keep him in office. The delegates this year were even more conservative than in past election years and looking for a change. While the delegates at convention wanted something different then the GOP-lite Swinton, the mainstream voters will vote for Swinton in June. Neither Swinton nor Snow have a shot against Lee and will be lucky to get 30% in the general."
"Delegates are ideologues who want to send a message. Primary voters are pragmatists, and they love problem solvers. Governor Herbert wins by 20 points."
"Still trying to figure out JJ's education plan... A lot of income tax cuts AND vouchers? Has anyone ever won with a 'Less Money for Education' platform? Glad primary voters will see through this red meat."
"Jonathon Johnson is the candidate that listens to the people and will resolve the many problems caused directly by Herbert's actions as former Governor or indirectly by his inaction on other important issues."
"Johnson needs to really work the likely primary voters to overcome Herbert's lead in name recognition and money. Doable, but difficult. People vote what they know. They don't know Johnson."