FARMINGTON — Eight votes are all that separated Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. from capturing outright the Republican Party nomination at the county convention.
The eight-vote margin looms large considering it’s a swing of merely four votes from one candidate’s vote total column to the other.
It also appears that — for whatever reason — 26 delegates attending the April 13 convention failed to cast a ballot in the countywide commission race.
“It’s not like we lost. We beat (Republican challenger Terry R. Spencer) by 19 percent,” Petroff said.
Petroff said he just didn’t beat Spencer by a large enough margin to avoid having a primary.
Petroff, seeking his second four-year term in office, will now face Spencer, a Syracuse attorney and former state senator, in the June 26 primary.
Spencer said he is ecstatic and excited to push the race forward.
“I’m expecting a very tight primary,” he said.
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” Petroff said.
But Petroff said he looks forward to sharing, during the campaign, all the good things that are happening in the county .
Regarding the delegates who did not vote at Friday’s convention, Petroff said he can only assume they left early. But he recognizes that even had all 26 of the missing delegates stayed and cast votes, there is no guarantee their votes would have gone to him and closed the margin needed to claim the nomination outright.
Davis County Republican Party Chairwoman Kris Kimball confirmed that some delegates did not cast a vote.
Of the 858 credentialed delegates who attended Friday’s GOP convention at Woods Cross High School, 26 failed to cast a vote in the commission race, Kimball and Petroff said.
And that was despite the fact that each delegate was specifically instructed about the importance of sticking around for the entire convention, Kimball said.
She said some may have left the convention. But delegates leaving early would surprise her, considering the commission race was determined prior to determination of the state races.
Many of the delegates attending the convention were there only for the countywide commission race, she said.
And there is no certainty, she said, that all of the delegates who failed to vote would have been enough to give Petroff the 60 percent of the vote needed to avoid a primary.
For example, Kimball said, of the 88 delegates who cast first-round ballots for commission candidate Mark Jacobs, of Bountiful — who was eliminated early from the contest — 40 marked Petroff as their second choice on their ballot, while 48 marked Spencer.
Kimball said she was pleased with the way the convention ran. She said the 858 delegates who participated at the convention made up nearly 95 percent of the 900 delegates eligible to attend and vote at the event.