At least that’s how it looks as Utah’s closest, and most controversial, race of 2018 busted past Election Day.
Final vote tallies may still decide the 4th Congressional District, but unofficial tallies late Tuesday night put Democrat Ben McAdams ahead, with incumbent Republican Rep. Mia Love trailing.
McAdams said around 10:30 p.m. that the race may not be decided for “several days,” as mail-in/provision ballots are counted.
Regardless of the final 4th District results, Democrats will control the U.S. House come 2019, meaning Utah Rep. Rob Bishop – who easily won re-election -- will not remain the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and falls back into the minority. For the pure power politics of Utah’s say in public lands issues, that is a real loss.
Other than the 4th District, the script went as advertised:
-- Republican Mitt Romney romped over Democrat Jenny Wilson in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by long-time incumbent Orrin Hatch.
-- Bishop wins easily in the 1st District, as he plans to retire in 2020.
-- U.S. GOP Rep. Chris Stewart is re-elected in the 2nd District over a surprisingly-good Democratic candidate Shireen Ghorbani.
-- And Republican freshman John Curtis wins in the heavily Republican 3rd District, beating Democrat James Singer.
You can get election results updates at the Utah Elections Office website, here.
On the ballot propositions and constitutional amendments:
-- Prop 2, medical marijuana, is winning by a bigger majority than many thought it would, considering LDS Church leaders came out against it.
But it doesn’t matter.
GOP Gov. Gary Herbert plans to call a special session in a few weeks, and Republican legislative leaders promise adoption of a compromise bill that will quickly move towards legal medical marijuana in Utah.
-- Prop 3, full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, passes.
But it is still unclear if Herbert and the GOP legislative majority will allow it to go into effect unchanged. The new law slightly raises the state sales tax to pay for the cost of adding more than 100,000 poor people to the federal government’s low-income health insurance program.
-- Prop 4, an independent redistricting commission, was barely winning late Tuesday. Not clear if it will pass or fail.
But it is likely that legislative Republicans won’t let it become law without some changes, should it pass.
The Republican-controlled 2019 Legislature could gut the measure.
The commission in some form may stay, but it’s likely the Republican lawmakers and Herbert won’t let it be as independent as Prop 4 calls for – look for a watered-down commission to make recommendations, but with the Legislature free to ignore or greatly change it.
-- Question 1 fails -- the nonbinding referendum on whether the Legislature should raise the gasoline tax by 10 cents per gallon, the money going to public schools.
It got stomped, with two-thirds of Utahns voting against it.
Don’t expect the GOP Legislature to pass any significant tax hike for schools, although they could – which Herbert’s pushing – find millions more for K-12 in the 2019 general session.
In his early evening acceptance speech, Romney, who has had an up and down personal relationship with GOP President Donald Trump, took just a few slight swipes at Trump – who is not well-liked in Utah.
Romney called for greater dignity and respect in politics, saying all Americans – no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation – are equal.
Romney goes to a new Senate that is still controlled by Republicans. In the majority, he said he would work with both sides of the aisle for the “enduring greatness” of America – saying the country was, is now, and will be great – just the opposite of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme.
Finally, Amendment A – property tax break for Utahns called up into active duty military – passes.
-- Amendment B – property tax exemption for owners of buildings being rented by government – fails.
-- Amendment C – the Legislature being able to call itself into special session on a restricted basis—passes, even though Herbert used his personal PAC to give $55,000 in a belated effort to kill it.
Bishop said even if he loses his chairmanship the Democratic majority “will have to work with us” on Interior Department issues. He said he has a good working relationship with Democrats on his committee, and that a lame duck congressional session (ending in January) will pass important legislation on land and water issues.
Love didn’t address the media. She stayed in an upper room as slowly through the evening her victory party supporters left her celebration.
Her campaign top staffers said they still felt good about her prospects, considering Utah County’s portion of the district hadn’t fully been counted.
McAdams said around 10:30 p.m. that he liked how his chances were going but didn’t declare victory.
He carried an 8,700 vote lead, out of 163,865 total, into Wednesday – 52.71 percent to Love’s 47.2 percent.
He’ll need that large of a lead, considering the vote in always-tardy Utah County lagged behind the other counties in reporting totals.