A veteran lawmaker and a veteran candidate survived challenges Tuesday in two Republican primary races for Utah Senate seats.
Three-term Sen. David Steele, R-West Point, easily defeated arch-conservative Jeffrey Ostler of Layton in a hotly contested District 21 race.In District 15, Orem businessman Parley Hellewell grabbed his party's nomination after two unsuccessful attempts, in 1992 and 1996, to earn the GOP nod for U.S. Congress.
Complete but unofficial election results showed Steele with a comfortable 59 percent of the vote. Hellewell, meanwhile, had to wait until the final precinct's ballots were tallied before relishing a narrow victory. Hellewell had 3,612 votes to 3,508 for Greg Soter, owner of a Provo advertising agency.
Steele was one of several beneficiaries of Gov. Mike Leavitt's late-campaign efforts to drum up support for more moderate GOP candidates.
"I believe it was my record that helped me to a comfortable win," Steele insisted. But the governor's help was certainly welcome.
"I have been strongly supported by Gov. Leavitt and I strongly support the governor. I am grateful he participated in my campaign," he said. "He is a wonderful governor."
In a written statement, Ostler attacked Leavitt for his involvement in the campaign.
"We are actually gratified that Gov. Leavitt has finally revealed his true allegiance since we have been getting mixed signals up until now," Ostler wrote. "He has openly campaigned against conservative Republicans and has exploited the unquestioning faith that the people of this state have in their government leaders.
"Hopefully, people will recognize the political `bait and switch' of those who would have you believe they are Republicans."
Steele, 48, does not face a challenger in the November general election.
Hellewell and Soter were two fairly similar candidates. Both are conservatives, long-time Orem residents, strong family men and small-business owners.
Hellewell, 48, and Soter, 51, agreed what likely set them apart was Hellewell's legwork. Hellewell said he walked door-to-door, covering 40 percent of the district, and said volunteers helped him hand out 15,000 door-hangers in the days leading up to the election.
"Mr. Hellewell has demonstrated a very, very strong work ethic during this campaign," Soter said. "He's a hard worker and it obviously paid off for him."
Hellewell said Soter was successful in portraying himself as having more experience.
"I think he convinced a lot of people of that and that was the big thing we were trying to overcome," Hellewell said. "We were both talking about tax and government waste, mainly. . . . I think (the win) is due to our grassroots campaign."
Hellewell, who hopes to replace retiring Sen. Le-Ray McAllister, will compete against Democrat Robert "Bob" Davis and Independent American candidate Mike Maloney in November.
"Even though Utah County, especially this district, is very, very strong Republican, we are going to work it as though it's not. We're going to do basically the same thing we did here," Hellewell said.
Steele said he worked harder in this election than in any previous election.
District 21 includes north Layton, Clearfield, Syracuse, West Point, Clinton and South Weber.
District 15 covers south and central Orem, northwest Provo and Vineyard.