While Republicans will maintain their supermajority on Utah’s Capitol Hill following Tuesday’s elections, Utah Democrats look to have finally expanded their numbers beyond Salt Lake County.
If Tuesday’s results hold, Democrats may have picked up 3 seats in the Utah House and one seat in the Utah Senate. Republicans did not flip a single Democratic-controlled seat in the Utah Legislature. Republicans will control 23 seats in the Utah Senate and will have a 59-16 advantage in the House. Those numbers could change in favor of Democrats if a few remaining close races tip their direction.
Utah Democrats also appeared to pick up seats outside of Salt Lake County for the first time since 2012 when Christine Watkins was defeated. Watkins later was re-elected to the House as a Republican.
Democrat Luwanna Shurtleff looks to have defeated Republican Lorraine Brown in HD10. The two were vying to replace Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden who decided not to run again. Shurtleff had an approximately 500 vote lead over Brown on Tuesday evening.
Second time is the charm for Democrat Suzanne Harrison, who lost her election in HD32 by a scant 5 votes in 2016. She was winning her HD32 election over Republican Brad Bonham. Republican LaVar Christensen decided not to run for re-election to this seat.
Democrats are set to pick up a seat in the Utah Senate in District 8. Democrat Kathleen Riebe was leading Republican Sen. Brian Zehnder. Zehnder was appointed to the seat after Republican Brian Shiozawa resigned to take a job with the Trump administration. Riebe, a member of the State School Board was leading Zehnder 56-42% late on Tuesday evening.
Republican Bruce Cutler’s luck ran out on Tuesday night. In 2014, he was losing on election night only to come back and win by 53 votes after absentee ballots were counted, and he eked out a 277 vote win in 2016. However, on Tuesday night he was trailing Democrat Andrew Stoddard by more than 800 votes on election night. Unless he can repeat his miracle finish in 2014, it looks like he will leave the legislature in January.
Republican Kirk Cullimore easily won the SD9 seat vacated by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser
There were a few close races still brewing on Tuesday night:
- Democrat Deana Froerer had a 25 vote lead over Republican Steve Waldrip in the race to replace Republican Gage Froerer (no relation) in HD8.
- Republican Calvin Musselman led Democrat Kathie Darby by 451 votes in HD9
- Republican incumbent Eric Hutchings leads Democrat Edgar Harwood by just 165 votes in HD38.
- Republican Cheryl Acton, vying for her first full term in HD43, led her Democratic opponent, Diane Lewis, by 253 votes on Tuesday night.
- In HD49, Republican Robert Spendlove had a 483 vote lead over Democrat Anthony Sudweeks. United Utah Party nominee Mark Russell got 754 votes in this race.
Some other notable legislative results from Tuesday:
- Salt Lake City Councilman Derek Kitchen easily won the race to replace Democrat Jim Dabakis in SD2. Dabakis is retiring at the end of this year.
- Democrat Susan Duckworth fended off a challenge from three other candidates, securing another term in HD22.
- Republican Brady Brammer easily won the race to replace Rep. Mike Kennedy in HD27. Kennedy left his seat to challenge Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.
- Republican incumbents Mike WInder and Craig Hall easily won re-election in their swing districts on the West side of Salt Lake County.
- Jen Dailey-Provost ran away with the race to succeed Rebecca Chavez-Houck in HD24. Republicans thought they might have a shot at this traditionally Democratic district, but their nominee, Scott Rosenbush, only got 23% of the vote.