Orem » Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, and former Rep. Brad Daw will square off in what could become a heated House primary battle with a cloud of scandal hanging over it, while Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, escaped a primary fight, emerging victorious in a three-way race Saturday.
The Utah County GOP gathering was one of 12 county Republican and Democratic party conventions held Saturday morning from Weber to Washington counties.
Daw and Layton will lock horns in a rematch of their 2012 contest, in which Layton knocked off the incumbent.
But it was later revealed during the investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow that the payday lending industry had pumped thousands of dollars of unreported "dark money" into attack ads targeting Daw, who sponsored legislation imposing new regulations on the industry.
The issue was front and center Saturday, as Daw’s wife, Laura, told delegates that the campaign was "notorious" because of the involvement of Swallow and his political allies, and cited a newspaper article that accused Layton of being involved in the attacks.
Layton said after the voting — in which Daw came just four votes short of capturing the nomination without a primary — that she was disappointed with the criticism.
"I don’t think that was very statesmanlike," Layton said. "I would really just like the district to heal."
Daw said the payday lenders’ support of Layton will continue to be an issue in the primary.
"Until she comes out and loudly disavows what happened, which she has never done, I’m going to use it," Daw said.
Greene survived a challenge from former Rep. Holly Richardson and mortgage company executive John Stevens to hold onto his District 57 House seat.
Richardson, who held the seat for a year before stepping down to run a U.S. Senate campaign, was bounced on the first round of balloting, and Greene collected about 70 percent of the vote to clinch the nomination.
Greene said the vote came out about as he expected, and he believes it shows that delegates supported the service during his two years in office. The conservative lawmaker said he was the target of negative campaigning, but he remained confident he would prevail.
"There was stuff that would’ve been better if it hadn’t happened, allegations that were made that would’ve better if they’d never been made," Greene said. "I had a target on me, but it’s the territory of the incumbent."
Norm Thurston, who led health-reform implementation efforts for the Utah Department of Health and now serves as director of health care statistics, won the nomination in a four-way race to replace House Speaker Becky Lockhart, who is retiring from her Provo district.
Rep. Mike McKell also clinched about two-thirds of the vote in his Spanish Fork district to win the Republican nomination.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.