SALT LAKE CITY — Former Rep. Brad Daw beat incumbent Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, in Tuesday's primary for the seat she won from him two years ago in a race that saw attack ads that have been tied to the John Swallow scandal.
"I think this was more of a fair fight this time. I think people saw last time was unfair," Daw said after winning with 54.4 percent of the vote. "I worked hard for this. I talked to a lot of people and let them know what was going on."
Daw lost the 2012 race after anonymous mailers attacking him were circulated that were connected to a campaign consultant to Swallow. The former attorney general is now under investigation by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys and the FBI.
A House investigative committee uncovered emails from Swallow's computer that dealt with how that consultant, Jason Powers, used hidden campaign money on attack ads against Daw.
“Brad Daw knows (we're) after him," Powers wrote to Swallow on April 19, 2011.
Daw said Tuesday that Layton was not to blame for the ads. "No, no, no. They came from the payday lenders," he said. The controversy surrounding Swallow, who resigned last year, "did play well with voters," Daw said.
He said he was vulnerable in the 2012 election to what he called "a smear campaign" because redistricting had brought new votes into the district he had held for four terms.
Daw now faces Democrat Archie Williams in the November general election.
Turnout was light Tuesday for primary races across the state, which included seven seats in the state Legislature, as well as a number of county offices such as the Salt Lake County assessor and auditor and Utah County attorney.
With just 44 voters casting ballots, the empty storefront serving as the Trolley Square polling station for Tuesday's primary election had plenty of "I Voted" stickers left over.
"It has been a quiet day. But I think it's important to have the polls open," said poll worker Bev Ashby, a retired schoolteacher on duty from when voting opened at 7 a.m. until the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Just then, Jim Dublinski walked in to cast his ballot even though none of the races on the ballot had garnered much attention. He said he's only missed a couple of elections over the years.
"Basically, I always vote because it's my duty as a citizen to vote," Dublinski said. "If I want the right leaders, I have to vote for the ones I think are best for that position."
Utahns who skipped Tuesday's primary "are neglecting their duty," he said.
Outside the shopping and entertainment complex, a handful of protestors opposing the state's partisan primary system spent the evening waving signs at traffic speeding by on 700 East.
Randy Miller of Syracuse, a founder of the Utah League of Independent Voters, said voters who don't affiliate with a political party are unfairly left out of the primary election process.
Miller dismissed a new state law that will require political parties to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in any primary. Currently, only registered Republicans can vote in a GOP primary, while Democrats hold open primaries.
"You defacto still have to join the party. They ask you, 'Do you want a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot?' I want a taxpayers ballot," Miller said, calling for primary elections where the top vote-getters advance, regardless of party.
Miller, who was joined by his 16-year-old son, Dakotah, said taxpayers should not be paying for elections to determine which candidates will represent a political party on the ballot in November.
State Elections Director Mark Thomas said the 2014 Legislature made it easier for unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries by approving a compromise that ended an effort to replace the caucus and convention system political parties use to select nominees.
The system, which allows candidates with enough support from party delegates to avoid primaries, will stay. But candidates will also be able to get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures, a change expected to increase interest in what are usually low-key elections.
In Tuesday's election, new Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, won his bid for the GOP nomination against Dan Deuel in Weber County's House District 7. Fawson was appointed in April to replace former Rep. Ryan Wilcox, who resigned to work for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and will face Democrat Camille Neider and Libertarian Robert Condie in November.
In Iron County's House District 72, Rep. John Westwood, R-Cedar City, defeated GOP challenger Blake Cozzens with 71.8 percent of the vote. Westwood will face Libertarian Barry Evan Short in November.
In Senate District 28, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, was well ahead of former GOP Sen. Casey Anderson in a race that will decide who holds the seat since no other candidates filed.
Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs led his GOP primary challenger Jake Parkinson, while the county's former auditor, Jeff Hatch, beat fellow Democrat Christopher Stout.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman received 52.8 percent of the vote to defeat fellow Republican Ben Stanley.
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