A GOP state senator and two House members have been sent packing, and another representative appeared to have failed in his bid for the Senate, according to unofficial primary election results available at press time this morning.
Rep. Jim Ferrin, R-Orem, lost his seat to challenger Stephen Sandstrom in a close race. Sandstrom earned 51 percent of the votes, or 1,887 ballots cast, to earn the Republican nomination for District 58. Ferrin garnered 49 percent, 1,788 ballots cast, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
"I don't think it's going to be real productive for me . . . to start micro-analyzing this about what caused what. He did a better job of getting his voters out than I did," Ferrin said. "I feel like I accomlished some pretty important things in the Legislature, and I would have liked to have done some more. But I guess I get to get on with my life in other ways now."
Sandstrom could not be immediately reached for comment.
The race often focused more on personal issues than political agendas. The winner will join Constitution Party Candidate Edward McGarr on the general election ballot.
In Senate District 18, Sen. David Thomas, R-South Weber, lost his seat to GOP challenger Jon Greiner, according to unofficial results. Greiner garnered 54 percent of the vote, or 1,675 ballots cast; Thomas earned 46 percent of the vote, or 1,435 ballots.
"I think that our message was pretty clear, that there was excess money in the Legislature this year and how it was spent wasn't very prudent," including lack of funding for emergency dental care for the poor and disabled, law enforcement strike forces and other matters, Greiner said. "Let's take care of our needs first."
Thomas said he was disappointed with the results but believes he will remain involved in politics.
"I tried to have a very positive campaign . . . I'm proud of that, I'm proud of what I've accomplished in the Senate, and that's just the way it goes," Thomas said. "We'll see what comes up . . . I probably will continue to be involved."
Rep. Dave Ure, R-Kamas, appeared to have lost his attempt at the District 26 Senate seat to Kevin Kevin Van Tassell, a Vernal Zions Bank branch manager. Van Tassell led with 54 percent of the vote, or 3,030 ballots cast, to Ure's 46 percent, or 2,601 of ballots cast, with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
"That's probably where it's going to be," Ure predicted of the final tally. "Geography plays an awful big part (in this election)." While he says the Uinta Basin, where Van Tassell is from, had a strong voter turnout, "I guess we didn't turn out enough in Wasatch and Summit County."
Van Tassell says the campaign volunteers worked hard to meet people and remain positive.
"Right now, numbers look fairly good, but it could change, I guess," he said at press time.
Davis County voters gave Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, a comfortable win over challenger Mark Jacobs in House District 19. Allen received 64 percent of the vote to Jacobs' 36 percent.
In House District 42 Rep. Peggy Wallace, R-West Jordan, narrowly lost her seat by 24 votes to challenger Jim Bird, an insurance agency owner, according to unofficial results. Wallace received 957 votes to Bird's 981, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Wallace is entitled to an automatic free recount because she lost by fewer votes than there were precincts (there are 31).
In Senate District 9, Wayne Niederhauser appeared headed to victory over Garbett Homes owner Bryson Garbett. With 69 percent of precincts reporting at press time, Niederhauser, a certified public accountant and real estate management and development company owner, led with 57 percent, or 1,672 ballots, to Garbett's 43 percent, or 1,261 ballots.
The pair, vying for the seat vacated by Sen. Al Mansell, R-Sandy, had spent about $100,000 an amount unheard of prior to a primary election.
Meanwhile, in a much-watched Salt Lake Democratic primary race, Christine Johnson appeared headed for the Democratic nomination for the open District 25 seat vacated by Rep. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, who is running for the Senate.
At press time, Johnson had 57 percent of the vote, or 785 of the ballots cast. Josh Ewing, who has worked for Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, had 43 percent of the vote, or 588 ballots cast, with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Both Ewing and Johnson, who is openly gay, two years ago were part of an unsuccessful effort to halt a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
In Utah County, Keith Grover edged Garr P. Judd with 54 percent of the vote in House District 61. Grover received 1,657 of the ballots cast to Judd's 1,425, according to unofficial results. The seat was vacated by Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, who last April won the Republican nomination in Senate District 15 over incumbent Sen. Parley Hellewell.
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