Home-court advantage helped Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, beat back a challenge from Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, for a spot on the Republican ticket this fall in the newly created House 29 District.
The new Box Elder/Weber County district put the two one-term Republicans into the uncomfortable situation of running against each other and in the end showed the divide between Box Elder and Weber counties makes all the difference.
Perry, an officer with the Utah Highway Patrol, beat Galvez by 938 votes in Box Elder County and was able to mitigate the West Haven Republican’s strength in Weber County.
Unofficial results Tuesday night had Perry winning with nearly 65 percent of the vote. He will face Democrat Heidi Britton, of Plain City, in November.
“I feel pretty good about the way things are going,” Perry said of the results.
There were at least two other key Top of Utah races, at the state level.
In Davis County, Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, beat back a challenge from Chris Crowder for a spot on the GOP ticket in District 16 in November against Democratic challenger Doug Sill.
Farther south, Democrats in the District 18 voted to send Doug MacDonald, of Farmington, into a November showdown against Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville.
MacDonald, with nearly 67 percent of the vote, beat Richard Bagley in unofficial results tallied on Tuesday night.
Because of computer programs, which showed 100 percent tallies for precincts when as few as one vote had been counted, it was hard for candidates to feel as though they had any real lead for most of the night.
In Davis County, the computer program didn’t show the number of precincts reporting, but showed the total percentage of votes cast so candidates like Handy were slow to feel as though they had won.
Handy expressed gratitude for what appeared to be a comfortable margin of victory.
“It’s humbling. People have affirmed I’ve done a good job for them,” Handy said of the results.
Crowder had labeled himself as the only true conservative in the race and had challenged the former Layton city councilman on several of his votes.
Handy described himself as a principled conservative.
He said he pulled out all stops in an attempt to win the nomination, sending out four mailers to registered voters, initiating one robo call, and then on Saturday using 25 to 30 volunteers to hand out literature to approximately 1,500 people.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will face off in November against Constitution Party candidate Kirk Pearson and a Democratic challenger.
Pearson, a homebuilder, beat out challenger Brandon Nay in Tuesday’s primary to run for governor as the state’s Constitution Party candidate.
Herbert will now face Pearson and Democrat Peter Cooke, who didn’t have a primary opponent. Utah has not elected a Democratic governor since Scott Matheson in 1980.
Nay, 34, and Pearson, 49, have been friends for years.
Both want the state to assert its rights while limiting federal government involvement.
Cooke, 62, is a retired two-star general and veterans’ advocate.