Last week's primary elections involving Utah House and Senate seats provided three upsets, but, in my view, no great messages were sent by the electorate.
Longtime legislator Sen. Lorin Pace was defeated in his Republican Holladay district by community worker Delpha Baird.Reps. Pat Nix and Conrad Maxfield, both conservative Republicans, were beaten by more moderate Republicans in their House districts.
In the Republican Party there were moderate vs. conservative overtones in many of the races. Some moderates won, but some moderates lost. The same with the conservatives.
There was only one Democratic House primary, no Democratic Senate primaries.
In the defeat of Nix, who is from Orem, and Maxfield, who is from the Cottonwood area of Salt Lake County, those who seek a more moderate Legislature can find some solace.
The Utah Education Association, the largest teacher union, gave extensively to both the opponents of Nix and Maxfield - Norm Nielsen and Irby Arrington, respectively.
But the UEA also backed Pace, and he lost to Baird, who I think it is fair to say is more conservative than Pace.
In fact, the UEA and it's local district affiliates gave Pace $6,400. That is the most money any candidate received from a political action committee. Pace doesn't have to report his campaign finances until 30 days after his defeat. My guess is the UEA funds not only will be the largest contribution, they will be the great majority of his funding.
Still, the teacher union was greatly worried that Don Sperry Redd was going to defeat Sen. Haven Barlow in his Layton district, but Barlow ended up crushing Redd almost 2-1. Barlow, co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee, received significant UEA support as well.
Earlier this year, many Republican incumbents worried that the sales-tax-off-food would be a bellwether issue - one that could defeat them.
They worried that the public - and their Republican and Democratic challengers - would be in favor of the removal.
But as the spring and summer wore on, and the popularity of the tax-removal initiative - which will be on November's ballot - dropped dramatically in the polls, the incumbent Republicans breathed a little easier.
Barlow is against the initiative, and he won. Nix was for it, and she lost.
November may be a bit different, true.
The initiative wasn't on the primary ballot. It will be on the November ballot. It may not make a lot of sense to vote for the initiative, removing the tax, and then vote for a legislative candidate that is against removing the tax. After all, the 1991 Legislature will have to decide how to deal with the drop in revenue if the initiative passes.
But it's probably also a good guess that voters really won't know where their legislative candidates stand on the food sales tax come Nov. 6. I hope I'm not sounding too cynical here, but many voters know little more about their legislative candidates than what's contained in the candidates' brochures dropped on doorways. And the brochures I've seen don't mention the food tax removal - why take a controversial stand when you don't have to, right?
Of course, if the food tax issue doesn't heat up or catch on it will be even less of an issue in the final election.
Considering which incumbents lost in the primary election, their personal problems or clearly identifiable political stands, I see the primary election as providing few clues to November's final showdown. In short: business as usually in the Republican dominated Legislature with no significant shift away from the GOP majority.