In two close Salt Lake City races for the state Legislature, the Democratic candidates who’d been endorsed by outgoing lawmakers will advance to the general election, according to the final election results released Tuesday.
In the race to replace Sen. Jim Dabakis in District 2, Salt Lake City Council member Derek Kitchen won his primary and will face Republican Chase Winder, a government relations executive for Utah-based software company Qualtrics, in November’s general election. In such a liberal area, Kitchen is the favorite in the race.
“Going into this race, we weren’t sure what to expect, but it was very competitive,” Kitchen told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday afternoon. “So now we look forward to a good general election and engaging with the voters on legislation that I can begin to work on. I look forward to serving in this capacity if given the opportunity in the general election this November.”
Dabakis is the only openly gay member of the state Legislature. Kitchen is also gay, and it’s his name on the lawsuit — Kitchen v. Herbert — that legalized gay marriage in Utah.
Kitchen held his election night lead against pediatrician Jen Plumb in final results with 53 percent to her 47 percent. Though he claimed victory in a speech to supporters that night, Plumb declined to concede, saying she wanted to see the final results.
“I’ll just keep moving onward and making change where I can,” Plumb said Tuesday. “It really has been an honor and such a lesson, a lot of lessons, about being out there in the public eye and how desperate folks feel to have their voices heard. I will look forward to the final results in November and see what our Legislature is going to look like.”
In the four-way race to replace Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck in House District 24, Jennifer Dailey-Provost, a healthcare and public health advocate, claimed her party’s nomination by holding off Igor Limansky. Dailey-Provost won by just 55 votes.
Dailey-Provost, who was endorsed by Chavez-Houck, will now go on to face Republican Scott Rosenbush in November’s race to represent residents on the west side of Salt Lake City. This is also a seat Democrats have held for years.
“I’m really, really pleased and relieved that our lead held,” Dailey-Provost said. “It’s been a close race for the last two weeks and Igor, you know, the margin kept narrowing. I knew that going into this race with Igor as a candidate, he was going to have a really exceptional ground game and that really bore out in the results. He’s a great candidate and a great community advocate.”
Although Limansky said he “didn’t quite make it” this time around, he said his campaign didn’t come in second on everything.
“I think we had by far the most donors, most volunteers and we knocked the most doors. I think that’s just a testament to folks being willing to show up for something they care about and I think we ran a campaign that we can be proud of.”
County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday night that the turnout for this year’s election was better than in years past, with more than 200,000 more votes cast in the Republican primary this year than in 2016, when there was a countywide statewide primary. She said heightened interest in the race, perhaps led by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney, may have contributed to the turnout.
Also in Salt Lake County, Sen. Brian Zehnder, R-Holladay, held onto his lead over Jaren Davis by 61 percent to 39.
Davis had questioned whether Zehnder is true to Republican principles, because studies show Zehnder voted more often with Democrats in party-line votes this year than with Republicans. Zehnder, a physician seeking his first full term after being appointed last year, campaigned saying he works with people in both parties to find solutions.