Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Utah 2010 Primary Election: Jim Matheson Clobbers Claudia Wright, Mike Lee Narrowly Defeating Tim Bridgewater

Let's do the easy one first. In the Utah Democratic Party primary, incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson is clobbering progressive challenger Claudia Wright by over a two-to-one margin. With 98 percent of the votes counted, Matheson leads 68 percent to 32 percent, far more one-sided than predicted by Dan Jones' pre-election poll. Nearly every county in the Second District went for Matheson, some overwhelmingly, except for Wayne County, where it was 37-37. In Utah County, the vote for Matheson was 702-114.

Matheson's pleased with the results. "We had a real great win tonight," he said to his supporters gathered at the Hilton City Center. "You find out where your supporters are and get them out to vote, and that's how you succeed." Also in this race is the Constitution Party's Randall Hinton and Independent Dave Glissmeyer.

It's obvious that Democrats angry about Matheson's vote against Obamacare returned to their senses and realized a vote for Wright would be a vote for Republican Morgan Philpot, so they "returned to the fold", so to speak. Claudia Wright ran a good campaign and attempted to make progressivism more palatable to mainstream Democrats, but it didn't work. Progressivism is too extreme for most people.

Raw election results:

-- Utah.gov
-- Salt Lake Tribune
-- Deseret News

Now, the harder one. With almost 99 percent of the vote counted in the Republican primary, Mike Lee is enroute to a narrow victory over Tim Bridgewater, leading by 2.2 percentage points. As the vote count progressed, Lee, who initially led Bridgewater by 5 points, saw his lead shrink to 1 point. Then it opened up as Utah and Davis County began to check in. Lee's margin over Bridgewater has remained a constant 2-3 points with each successive update. Thus it appears we can tentatively declare Mike Lee the winner. KSL news video below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

The results showed both a slight urban-rural and a north-south divide. While Bridgewater prevailed in Weber, Davis, Box Elder, and Salt Lake Counties, Lee prevailed in Washington, Iron, Utah, and Uintah Counties. But a low turnout may have helped Lee, since it's the more paleoconservative supervoters who helped push Lee into a primary and it's the supervoters who are more likely to show up. Early estimates show the turnout may have been 12-15 percent, although turnout in Salt Lake County may reach 18 percent. Some voters found it difficult to choose between Lee and Bridgewater. "Can I have half of one and half of the other? Seriously. I wish I could. I like Mike Lee's enthusiasm and go get 'em. I like Tim Bridgewater's business experience," said Alicia Jemmatt, a Salt Lake City voter, who ultimately chose Bridgewater.

National Republican Chairman Michael Steele didn't wait for the results to be finalized. He sent the following statement congratulating Lee on his victory. "Mike Lee is a true limited-government conservative who will fix Washington by working to rein in out-of-control spending, reduce our $13 trillion national debt and lower the tax burden for families and small businesses...I am absolutely confident Mike Lee will be the next Senator from Utah, and the Republican Party looks forward to his leadership in the Senate."

Mike Lee now advances to face Democratic nominee Sam Granato, a political newcomer who is a restaurateur and chairman of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. While many think it will be one-sided in favor of Lee, pride goeth before a fall. Granato has more in common with Jim Matheson than with Claudia Wright. Also in the Senate race is Constitution Party candidate Scott Bradley.

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