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After 3 days of voting, Salt Lake County GOP convention decides 4 close races

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Rep. Fred Cox Salt Lake County Republican Party Convention in 2018. Cox narrowly escaped being eliminated in the County Council primary.

After voting that stretched for three days in the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, attorney Jordan Teuscher missed avoiding a primary election by two votes.

Similarly, South Jordan Mayor Dave Alvord missed skipping the primary by four votes in a hotly contested County Council race. Also, recently appointed state Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-West Jordan, was forced into a primary.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the convention this year was online — with delegates watching videos and voting electronically. Problems with voting brought long delays in the first round of balloting, which in turn delayed a subsequent round needed to decide four races that originally had three candidates. Results of most races were announced Sunday. The final four races were decided late Monday night.

“Our apps worked largely as planned," county GOP Chairman Scott Miller said. “For those with incompatible devices, we were able to quickly arrange a convenient voice vote. Most of the kinks were worked out through Round 1 of voting, making for a smooth Round 2.”

Teuscher, an attorney who is executive director of the Leavitt Institute for International Development, won 58% of the delegate vote against Aaron Starks, who stepped down as vice chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party to run in their House race. They will now meet in the June 30 primary.

[Read more: Election 2020: Utah’s gubernatorial candidates and where they stand on the issues]

Candidates who win 60% of delegate votes gain the party’s nomination outright; otherwise, the top two finishers advance to the primary.

Teuscher said in his campaign video, “I am pro-life and I fully support the Second Amendment. I am a strong supporter of legal immigration and oppose any action that normalizes illegal immigration.” Starks campaigned with promises to improve public schools.

In the County Council race to replace outgoing Republican member Michael Jensen, Alvord also received 58% of votes in the final round, four short of eliminating former state Rep. Fred Cox. In an earlier round, they eliminated West Valley City Council member Karen Lang.

Alvord said in a convention video, “As a former west side mayor, I will be loyal to the entire west side and will represent each community equally.”

Cox noted he started the ballot referendum that recently halted tax reform that would have raised the food tax. “We had 170,000 signatures. But somebody had to sign the form to start it … and that was me. I was willing to do that even though many people thought it was impossible to do.”

Christiansen, who was recently appointed to the Legislature after former Rep. Ken Ivory resigned, won 54% of delegate votes in the final round against entrepreneur Nathan Brown, who attacked Christiansen for supporting the tax reform bill and for not passing any legislation this year.

In a GOP race for the state school board, middle school Principal Molly Hart won 56% of the final-round vote over business consultant David Linford. They now will face each other in the primary.

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