Tuesday was a big day for women and Democrats in the Utah Senate.

Heading into the election, Sen. Millie M. Peterson, D-West Valley City, was the only woman in the 29-member Senate and one of just nine Senate Democrats.By the end of the day, Peterson was joined by three more women - Democrats Karen Hale and Paula F. Julander and Republican Beverly Evans - and saw the Republican majority in the Senate slide from 20-9 to 18-11.

Hale pulled off a major upset in Salt Lake City's District 7. She narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Dave Buhler, according to complete but unofficial results.

Buhler raised $69,454 in campaign contributions, more than any other state legislative candidate.

"I think it says a lot about just getting out there and walking the streets and working and talking to people. Money doesn't always do it," said Hale, a 40-year-old writer.

"There are other pressing issues to be dealt with in the Senate, but that gender imbalance really hit a lot of people in a big way, so I think that could have been the deciding factor."

Buhler, out of the state on business, said early Wednesday he had been worried about voter turnout.

"I've been concerned that people who want (2nd Congressional District candidate) Lily Eskelsen, and I'm sure there are a lot of them in my district, would go out and vote and some Republicans might stay home," he said from his hotel room in Baltimore. "She (Hale) ran a very good race, and it's a disappointment. I feel like I've let a number of people down."

The victories by Julander, a former state representative, and Evans, a current state representative, were not unexpected.

The other surprise for the Democrats came in District 18, where Ogden physician Edgar Allen beat Republican Nathan C. Tanner, who was seeking a second term.

The campaign had been uneventful until mid-September when Tanner filed a state campaign finance report that contained only zeros. He amended it later to reflect money actually raised and spent, but Allen said that rubbed voters the wrong way.

"People who were aware of it were unhappy with it," said the LDS Church stake president, who felt residents also were concerned with how the GOP has controlled and managed the Senate.

Half of the 29 seats in the Senate are up for election every two years. Senators serve four-year terms.

In addition to picking up two new seats, Democrats held onto five other Senate districts. Two races seen as possible takeovers by the GOP did not turn out that way.

Peterson retained her District 12 seat with a clear victory over political newcomer James L. Leigh. Peterson raised well over three times as much money as Leigh and won despite feeling "targeted" by the GOP.

Republicans also thought they might take District 3 after longtime Democratic legislator Blaze Wharton retired. But Rep. Gene Davis, 53, made a successful leap from House to Senate.

"It looks real good for Senate Democrats," Davis said afterward. "I think we've worked very, very hard, and we've been able to stay focused."

The race for retiring state Democratic Sen. George Mantes' District 13 seat was a squeaker with the apparent victor by 44 votes, Democrat Ron Allen, keeping his celebration in check until all absentee ballots are counted.

"I lost a county commission race by less than 1 percent and lost a primary race for the county commission by 64 votes," Ron Allen said.

Republican Merrill Nelson said he will ask for a recount, although he doesn't expect the outcome to change.

In Utah County, retiring Republican Sen. LeRay McAllister leaves District 15 in the hands of his choice for successor, Republican Parley Hellewell.

Legislature makeup

State Senate

Year Republicans Democrats

1990 19 10

1992 18 11

1994 19 10

1996 20 9

1998 18 11

State House of Representatives

Year Republicans Democrats

1990 44 31

1992 49 26

1994 55 20

1996 55 20

1998 54 21

State Senate

District 1

Salt Lake County

58 of 58 precincts

Paula F. Julander (D) 13,884 89%

David B. Smith (L) 1,249 8%

Lilli DeCair (NL) 459 3%

District 3

Salt Lake County

60 of 60 precincts

Gene Davis (D) 8,160 54%

Fred W. Jones (R) 6,893 46%

District 4

Salt Lake, Utah counties

56 of 56 precincts

H. Stephenson (R-inc.) 11,549 64%

Edward "Ted" Black (D) 6,441 36%

District 7

Salt Lake County

66 of 66 precincts

Karen Hale (D) 12,421 50%

David L. Buhler (R-inc.) 11,529 47%

Chris Larsen (IP) 461 2%

James K. Elwell (L) 283 1%

District 9

Salt Lake County

65 of 65 precincts

Steven Poulton (R-inc.) 11,582 52%

Steven B. Wall (D) 10,334 47%

Dusty Swain (NL) 321 1%

District 10

Salt Lake County

55 of 55 precincts

Al Mansell (R-inc.) 10,886 57%

Howard Van Horn (D) 7,685 40%

Charles A. Bonsall (L) 463 2%

Tom Coleman (NL) 201 1%

District 11

Salt Lake County

43 of 43 precincts

Ed Mayne (D-inc.) 9,483 100%


District 12

Salt Lake County

42 of 42 precincts

Millie Peterson (D-inc.) 5,607 56%

James L. Leigh (R) 4,419 44%

District 13

Salt Lake, Tooele counties

53 of 53 precincts

Ron Allen (D) 7,102 50%

Merrill F. Nelson (R) 7,058 50%

District 15

Utah County

49 of 49 precincts

Parley Hellewell (R) 10,036 72%

Robert "Bob" Davis (D) 3,512 25%

Mike Maloney (IA) 498 3%

District 18

Weber, Davis counties

52 of 52 precincts

D. Edgar Allen (D) 6,447 53%

Nathan Tanner (R-inc.) 5,670 47%

District 21

Davis County

58 of 58 precincts

David H. Steele (R-inc.) 9,485 100%


District 22

Davis County

70 of 70 precincts

Terry R. Spencer (R) 12,346 68%

Gregory J. Sanders (D) 5,742 32%

District 24

Box Elder, Cache counties

61 of 61 precincts

Peter C. Knudson (R) 11,564 68%

Corey Rowley (D) 4,614 27%

Richard L. Partridge (L) 826 5%

District 26

Summit, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah, Carbon, Daggett counties

80 of 80 precincts

Beverly Evans (R) 13,468 70%

Jerry B. Romero (D) 5,207 27%

Steve Sady (L) 513 3%