Races tighten for Utah GOP hopefuls in latest updates to primary vote totals

Only seven votes separate two candidates in a southern Utah House race.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Kelly Miles, R-Ogden, places his hand over his heart as the choir sang the national anthem at the State Capitol in January 2022.

Though many of Utah’s primary races weren’t close Tuesday night, county offices reported new numbers Thursday for Utah’s primary elections. The new totals helped solidify nominations for some legislative districts and left a southern Utah House district up in the air.

In House District 46, incumbent Rep. Jeffrey Stenquist saw his lead over challenger Carolyn Phippen slightly shrink in the latest numbers reported by Salt Lake County. On Tuesday, Stenquist held 54% of the vote, and Thursday’s update saw that lead slip to just over 53%.

Stenquist now has 2,960 votes to Phippen’s 2,611 votes as of Thursday afternoon. All but two House District 46 precincts have reported totals, according to Salt Lake County’s elections website. The district includes areas of Draper and Bluffdale.

Stenquist, who has been a member of the House since 2019, served on the Draper City Council before retiring from the position in 2017. Phippen described herself on her campaign website as an abortion opponent and emphasized the need to restore confidence in elections.

A northern Utah incumbent seems likely to lose his seat to a primary opponent. Rep. Kelly Miles, who represents House District 11, still trails newcomer Katy Hall as of Thursday. House District 11 includes Hill Air Force Base and Riverdale.

Hall had 2,440 votes — over 61% of the vote — compared to Miles’ 1,534 votes as of Thursday afternoon.

It was not immediately clear if Miles has conceded the election to Hall. Messages to both candidates were not returned as of Thursday afternoon.

One of the closest races in the state is down south, with Joseph Elison holding the slightest of leads over Willie Billings in the GOP primary for House District 72. The district is entirely within Washington County, containing cities like Hurricane, Springdale and Apple Valley.

Going into Thursday, numbers posted by Washington County showed a difference of only eight votes, as Elison has 3,940 votes to Billings’ 3,932.

Thursday afternoon, the race became even tighter. Updated numbers showed only seven votes separated the two, as Elison had 4,064 votes to Billings’ 4,057.

The tight race is well within the boundaries for a recount. Utah state code says that the vote totals for a winning and losing candidate must be within .25% of each other. The losing candidate must file a request for a recount within seven days of the election.