Primary elections will take shape at Utah conventions | Utah News
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY, AP — Utah’s primary election takes shape Saturday as top party members gather to hear candidates in multiple races, including re-election contests for GOP Sen. Mike Lee and member of Congressman John Curtis.
Meanwhile, Democrats are separately weighing an unusual push to choose no one to face Lee, and instead weigh their weight behind an independent contender, Evan McMullin.
Lee easily won the GOP convention nomination with more than 70% of the vote, but his two challengers will still appear on the primary ballot since they used the other route to the primary ballot: collecting signatures.
For many political hopefuls, the conventions are where senior party members decide who will appear in the primary ballot in June. Such is the case in the race for US House District 3, which Curtis owns. A moderate Republican, he faces four challengers and could have an uphill battle since delegates tend to be more conservative than the rest of Utah’s Republican electorate.
Curtis was first elected in a 2017 special election to replace incumbent Congressman Jason Chaffetz, and was re-elected the following year. While Utah candidates can also collect signatures to secure their spot on the primary ballot, the five hopefuls this year are relying on votes from convention delegates.
Candidates must obtain 60% of the delegate vote to become the sole GOP nominee. If no candidate meets this threshold, the first two voters both appear on the primary ballot.
Candidates can also collect signatures to appear on the primary ballot, and two Republicans challenging Lee have already gathered enough to secure their spot.
Former lawmaker Becky Edwards garnered about 12% of the vote on Saturday and former deputy chief of staff to Governor Ally Isom finished just behind Edwards.
Lee’s relationship with former President Donald Trump has been a focus since CNN reported text messages showing the senator was involved in early efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, though Lee later pivoted after that no widespread fraud has emerged.
“I did my job,” Lee said of the posts. “I did my job as I always promised to do my job.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are also meeting to choose their candidates this weekend. They will consider a proposal by some of the state’s most prominent minority party members to avoid nominating anyone for the race, in order to get behind independent candidate Evan McMullin. The conservative former CIA officer ran for president in 2016 and garnered a significant share of the vote in Utah, where many GOP voters nevertheless had reservations about then-candidate Trump.
But there is a Democrat vying for the nomination, Kael Weston, and his supporters are pushing back against the idea.
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