Well, it wasn’t even close in two of the key Utah legislative primary contests Tuesday.
But the third was more of a contest.
Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Rep. John Westwood, also R-Cedar City, easily defeated their intraparty challengers in what was expected to be a rather low turnout for a primary contest.
And former Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, had his revenge against current Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, in a closer contest.
There are always local issues and personalities in primary contests.
But at least for former Sen. Casey Anderson – who was knocked out of office two years ago by Vickers (he was then in the Utah House) – Tuesday was bitter.
If Anderson had gotten one more delegate vote in Senate District 28 in the state GOP convention several weeks ago, he would have unseated Vickers.
And it may be the last time that GOP delegates get the chance to take out an incumbent.
Come 2016 any sitting officeholder – who may receive the wrath of hard-core conservative delegates – will be able to side step them, and get on their party’s primary ballot via a voter signature petition.
And who knows how much the Count My Vote/SB54 issue played in Tuesday’s elections.
All three of the incumbents – Vickers, Westwood and Layton – voted for the SB54 “grand compromise” bill in the 2014 Legislature.
That compromise ended the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition drive – and allows come 2016 a dual track party candidate nomination process.
Vickers and Westwood clearly faced some unhappy delegates in their GOP conventions – upset over their own incumbents voting to neuter future delegates’ power in candidate selections.
The Daw-Layton contest had its own internal soap opera, however.
The Utah House investigation of former GOP Attorney General John Swallow found that Swallow and his high-riding campaign consultant, Jason Powers, “hid” payday loan contributions and from that $400,000 war chest spent tens of thousands of dollars in a negative campaign against Daw.
Daw had the political courage to propose some state controls on the payday loan industry in the state.
And Powers even boasted on his web site after the 2012 election that he had a hand in defeating Daw.
Layton took contributions – both in-kind and money – from Powers’ “non-profit” foundation, although she has maintained for two years that she didn’t know what Powers was up to when she defeated Daw in the 2012 GOP primary in House District 60.
Daw road the Swallow/Powers’ horse hard in his 2014 re-match.
Final, but unofficial, results show that Daw pounded out a victory over Layton, 54-46 percent.
It wasn’t even close for Vickers and Westwood, however. Vickers got 67 percent to Anderson’s 33 percent.
Vickers, UtahPolicy is told, set out to raise around $100,000 in his primary rematch against Anderson – an unheard of amount for a legislative primary contest.
Financial filings with the Utah Elections Office showed as of Tuesday night Vickers had raised $84,460 and spent $46,294 in the convention and primary.
Final totals may drive Vickers’ primary campaign even higher.
Anderson clearly didn’t have the financial resources to match Vickers. Anderson raised $7,445 and spent $4,661.
On top of all his money, Vickers had the endorsements of many local political leaders and officeholders, most of the Senate and even GOP Gov. Gary Herbert.
Anderson was out-gunned financially and in star power.
Westwood also had an interesting race.
Blake Cozzens is the Iron County GOP chairman. He refused to resign his party post even as he challenged Westwood, a sitting GOP incumbent.
State party bylaws say all party officials must stay neutral in any intra-party challenges.
And state party chairman James Evans openly called Cozzens on the carpet, saying he should resign his county party chairmanship or get out of the race.
Cozzens did neither.
In addition, Westwood voted for SB54.
And Cozzens co-founded an active group opposing Count My Vote and its direct-to-primary candidate citizen initiative.
So Cozzens seemed to have the perfect political storm – even if he couldn’t beat Westwood in the Iron County GOP convention (and he couldn’t), he could appeal to GOP loyal primary voters to punish Westwood for throwing them under the bus.
But it didn’t work.
Westwood beat Cozzens handily, 72-28 percent.
Yes, Westwood had more money that Cozzens, but not by much (compared to Vickers over Anderson).
Westwood raised $14,779 and spent $7,195 to Cozzens’ $3,751 raised and $3,429 spent.
Clearly, Cozzens spent all the money he had, but it wasn’t enough.
All three districts are heavily Republican and even if the winners Tuesday night have an opponent, it won’t matter.
Vickers, Westwood and Daw are headed back to the 2015 Utah State Legislature.
If you are counting (and I am even if you are not), I predicted wins for Vickers, Westwood and Daw in a Monday UtahPolicy column. I’m just saying . . .
Read more at http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/2848-two-incumbents-cruise-on-primary-night-while-one-falls