Sandy Republican lawmaker pulls off what appears to be an amazing election comeback

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) In this Jan. 17, 2018, file photo, Rep. Steve Eliason announces a teen suicide prevention task force at the state Capitol. After appearing to fall short on election night, Eliason has clawed ahead to grab the lead over Democratic challenger Wendy Davis.

On Election Night, state Rep. Steve Eliason was a dead man walking, politically. The Sandy Republican was nearly 1,000 votes behind Democratic challenger Wendy Davis in a district Utah Democrats had targeted for a flip this year.

In the ensuing nine days, Eliason completely erased a 964 vote deficit and Thursday took the lead over Davis by 35 votes. There are still a few days remaining until the final vote count on Tuesday, but if Eliason’s lead holds, he will have completed an amazing comeback.

That follows another reversal of election night results by long-time state Rep. Jim Dunnigan in Taylorsville. After trailing Democratic challenger Lynette Wendel initially, he caught up and surpassed her this week and, as of Thursday, led by 78 votes.

In a nearby House race, Democrat Ashlee Matthews still maintains a lead over veteran Republican Rep. Eric Hutchings of Kearns. That lead has dwindled in recent days but Matthews still maintains an edge of 361 votes.

Salt Lake County Council member Shireen Ghorbani, meanwhile, is clinging to a 140 vote lead over Republican challenger Laurie Stringham. It appears that two other Republicans will win in races for open seats — Dave Alvord and Dea Theodore — maintaining the council’s 5-4 GOP majority.

— Politics editor Dan Harrie contributed to this report.