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US Senate race still up in the air, like many Weber County races

By Tim Vandenack - | Apr 24, 2022

Adam Fondren, The Deseret News via AP

The three Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate seat up for election this cycle are, from left, incumbent Mike Lee, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom. They were photographed at the Utah Republican Party convention on Saturday, April 24, 2022, in Sandy.

SANDY -- After Saturday's Utah Republican Party Convention, numerous questions remain over who the GOP standard-bearers will be in several races. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Lee was the overwhelming pick to represent the party among convention delegates, typically the most gung-ho of Utah GOPers. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, he received around three-quarters of the votes.

"I am humbled and honored for the overwhelming support I received from Republican delegates today at our state convention," Lee, seeking his third term, said in a Facebook post. "I will continue to be your principled, consistent, conservative voice in the U.S. Senate!"

Even so, he'll still face a primary as Becky Edwards and Ally Isom had secured ballot places in the June 28 Republican primary via petition. Edwards, in her own comments at the convention, jabbed at the incumbent -- who led overwhelmingly in voter preferences in polling earlier this year -- generating jeers from the pro-Lee crowd.

"Our senior Senator has not been effective at keeping his campaign promises," Edwards charged, alluding to failure during his tenure to address U.S. debt or implement a balanced-budget amendment. "No, he has not done his job."

At the same time, Democrats at their convention, also Saturday, decided to back the U.S. Senate bid of Evan McMullin, an independent hopeful, solidifying his upstart effort to oust Lee. With that decision, Kael Weston, who had been running as a Democrat, suspends his campaign.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Evan McMullin listens to speakers during the Utah Democratic Convention at Cottonwood High School on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

"Today we took an important step in building a new coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents to change our broken politics," McMullin said in a Tweet. "I'm grateful for the support of Democratic delegates who voted to join us and for Kael Weston's honorable campaign. Onward!"

Weston expressed "respect" for the decision of his fellow Democrats in a Twitter thread and also support for efforts to oust Lee. "Let's all help get other Democrats elected this year. And let's all help defeat Mike Lee -- the sooner the better," Weston tweeted.

The June 28 primary will determine the GOP standard-bearer in the Senate contest, who will then face McMullin in the November General Election.

Other races for political posts serving Weber County, notably the 1st District U.S. House race, remain similarly uncertain.

Vying for his second term, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore finished a distant second among GOP delegates in the final round of voting to Andrew Badger, who won by a rough margin of 59%-41%, according to the Salt Lake Tribune tally of voting. The Utah Republican Party hadn't yet posted convention results as of Sunday afternoon.

"Now we face a grassroots fight between the people and the Establishment! (W)e're going to win this thing!" Badger said in a Facebook post in response to the results. Though there will be a primary, he wrote, "we have the momentum!"

The results set up a three-way race for the GOP nomination in the June primary between Moore, Badger and Tina Cannon, a former Morgan County Council member. Because neither Moore nor Badger secured more than 60% of the vote at Saturday's convention, both will be on the primary ballot, per party rules. Moore and Cannon, though, had already secured ballot spots via collection of signatures on petitions.

Eliminated from contention on the GOP side are William Cambell and Julie Fullmer. Rick Jones of West Haven is the Democratic contender.

The first district serves Northern Utah, including Weber and Morgan counties and parts of Davis, Salt Lake and Summit counties.

Interestingly, Badger had mustered only $45,250 in campaign funding as of April 1, a fraction of the $983,040 Moore garnered. Badger describes himself as a "strong conservative" and has faulted Republican lawmakers for not pushing back hard enough against the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

In the race for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, now held by Chris Stewart, the incumbent garnered more than 80% support from delegates, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Still, he'll face a challenge in the GOP primary from Erin Rider, who secured a ballot spot via collection of signatures.

The 2nd District Democratic candidate will be Nick Mitchell, who beat out Steve Hartwick in the Utah Democratic Party convention on Saturday.

The 2nd District covers parts of Davis and Salt Lake counties and western and southwestern Utah.

Here are results from Saturday in races for other posts serving Weber County, which, like the federal contests, remain up in the air:

District 5, Utah Senate: Sen. Ann Millner of Ogden, seeking her third term in the post, tied in voting on Saturday with challenger Doug Durbano. The two will face off in the June 28 primary, according to Millner. Kevin Hall, the third GOPer in the race, is eliminated from contention.

"I'm pleased that I get to carry this to the next step," Millner told the Standard-Examiner.

She plans to tout her focus on encouraging parental involvement in education, creation of individualized education plans for students and pushing for a vibrant business community as the campaign goes forward. She also plans to emphasize her focus on balancing growth with infrastructure development.

"There's still a lot to do," she said.

Durbano, from Mountain Green, couldn't immediately be reached for comment on Sunday. Michael Blodgett of Ogden is running as a Democrat for the seat.

District 5, renumbered from District 18 per redistricting, covers all or parts of Riverdale, South Ogden, Ogden, Washington Terrace and Uintah in Weber County, extending into parts of Morgan and Davis counties as well.

District 8, Utah House: Jason Kyle beat out Kimberly Cozzens 29 votes to 24, according to Cozzens, a 54.7%-45.3% split. Both Republicans move on to the June 28 primary since neither broke the 60% barrier.

"We have a lot of good delegates who put in a lot of time," Kyle said.

Cozzens expressed excitement over the results and the prospect of heading to the primary. "I'm very happy to be moving on to a primary. I have a lot of excited support," she said.

Steve Waldrip, a Republican, now holds the seat, but he announced last week that he was dropping out of the race to focus more on an initiative he helps run to promote home ownership among working families. Monica Hall is running as a Democrat for the seat, which covers part of Ogden's East Bench and the Ogden Valley area.

District 11, Utah House: Rep. Kelly Miles edged Katy Hall 19 votes to 17 at the Republican convention. Both had garnered ballots spots via petition anyway and will face off again at the GOP primary in June.

"I was thrilled with the results," said Miles, seeking his fourth term. His message to delegates, he said, focused on the "blood, sweat and tears" he has dedicated to keeping the seat in the GOP column in past races, fending off bids from Democratic contenders.

"I told them I still have that fire in me and want to work for them for another term," he said.

Hall expressed optimism at the "virtual tie." One more vote for her would have resulted in an even split among delegates.

"My message is one of change, improved communication with district and conservatism," she said. She touted her perspective "as a nurse, military wife and mother, high school tennis coach, community council member and citizen of District 11."

No Democrats are running for the seat.

District 11 covers portions of South Ogden, Washington Terrace, Riverdale and Uintah in Weber County and part of South Weber and Hill Air Force Base in Davis County.

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