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Republican Swallow beats Smith by a wide margin

Published November 6, 2012 8:30 pm

Chief deputy attorney general holds on to huge lead over Weber County attorney.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Republican John Swallow defeated Democrat Dee Smith in the race to replace outgoing Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, according to unofficial results Tuesday.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial results showed Swallow with 64.54 percent of the vote compared to Smith's 30.18 percent.

Swallow, the current chief deputy attorney general, took the lead early on and held a better than 2-to-1 lead as the night wore on. During the campaign he said his top priorities were to try to assist Utah to put large swaths of federal lands under state control so it could be tapped as a revenue source from energy and other development.

"I am thrilled," Swallow said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve and being in a position to do what is right for the state. I'm humbled."

Smith, the Weber County attorney, congratulated Swallow on the victory and said he wished him well.

"We knew coming in it would be an uphill battle," Smith said. "I wasn't naive to the political reality and makeup of Utah and knew it would be tough with [Mitt] Romney at the top of the ticket. But I thought it was important for people to have a choice."

The race was overshadowed quite a bit by the amount of money that flooded into it — mostly flowing into Swallow's coffers.

While Smith struggled to raise cash — about $50,000 — Swallow picked up more than $1.2 million in contributions from a variety of Super PACs and individuals. Smith said in debates he worried the sheer volume of contributions to Swallow could give the appearance that the office couldn't be impartial.

But Swallow defended the amount raised, saying it was a cumulative dollar total from a bruising caucus and primary fight against fellow Republican Sean Reyes. That fight got so nasty, Reyes filed a defamation lawsuit in court over a Nevada-based Super PAC ad done on behalf of Swallow.Swallow said his priorities would center around federal lands and working to protect families and children from predatory practices on the Internet."I want to focus on teaching kids how to be Internet-smart," Swallow said. It's a piece we're missing."

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero