Election years usually bring a good number of retirements on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Not so in 2022, as just eight of Utah’s 104 legislators are running for another term. Additionally, every Republican member of Congress will have to fend off an intraparty challenge for the nomination this year.
Two of the top Republicans in the House have elected not to run for another term. Rep. Tim Hawkes, chair of the House Rules Committee, is leaving after eight years, and Rep. Brad Last, House chair of the top budget committee, is retiring after 20 years.
The other members of the Legislature who are not running for reelection are Democratic Sen. Jani Iwamoto, Republican Reps. Mike Winder, Merrill Nelson, Lowry Snow and Democratic Rep. Suzanne Harrison. Redistricting moved Harrison out of her Draper district due into the heavily-Republican area held by Rep. Jeff Stenquist. She is running for an at-large seat on the Salt Lake County Council.
In the U.S. House, eleven candidates are lining up to challenge incumbent Sen. Mike Lee this cycle, including six Republicans. Republicans Rebecca Edwards and Ally Isom are joined in the race to challenge Lee for the GOP nomination by Evan Barlow, Loy Brunson, Jeremy Friedbaum and Laird Hamblin. Brunson and Friedbaum ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 but were eliminated at the GOP convention.
Independent Evan McMullin officially jumped into the race against Lee on Friday. Democrat Kael Weston, Libertarians James Hansen and Lucky Bovo and Tommy Williams of the Independent American Party round out the field. Weston unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2020.
There are five challengers for Rep. Blake Moore, with four being fellow Republicans. Tina Cannon, who ran against Moore in 2020, is back for a rematch. Cannon was eliminated at the GOP convention. Fellow Republicans William Campbell, Julie Fullmer and Andrew Badger, plus Democrat Rick Jones are in the race.
Rep. Chris Stewart faces a stiff challenge for the GOP nomination from Erin Rider, who is gathering signatures to secure a spot in the primary election. Stewart has avoided a primary election in his five previous campaigns, winning the nomination outright at the convention each time. There are two Democrats in the contest, Steve Hartwick and Nick Mitchell.
Jay McFarland, who ran for Congress as a Republican in 2020, is back for another run under the banner of the United Utah Party. Cassie Easley of the Constitution Party also filed to run.
Seven challengers have stepped into the ring against 3rd District Rep. John Curtis, including Republicans Lyman Wight and Jason Preston. Democrats Archie Williams and Glen Wright also joined the race.
The 4th District contest has the fewest candidates this year. Incumbent Rep. Burgess Owens is facing Republican Jake Hunsaker for the GOP nomination. Democrat Darlene McDonald, a candidate in 2018, is running as a Democrat.
Candidate filing odds and ends
The handful of open seats in the Utah Legislature drew a stampede of aspiring candidates.
SD14 drew six candidates, including 4 Democrats, seeking to replace Iwamoto. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Pitcher is giving up her seat in the House to run for this seat. Deondra Brown of the 5 Browns piano act also is running as a Democrat in this district.
Four Republicans are vying for HD18, including David Stringfellow, the current Chief Economist for the Utah State Auditor, Centerville Mayor Paul Cutler and Alena Ericksen, who dropped her bid for Congress earlier this year.
Three Republicans hope to replace Rep. Merrill Nelson in HD29, including current State Board of Education member Mark Huntsman and Fred Johnson. They mounted unsuccessful bids for the Utah Legislature in 2018 and 2016.
The race for Rep. Mike Winder’s seat in HD30 could be the most heavily contested legislative seat this cycle. Current Rep. Judy Weeks Rohner was shifted into this district because of the new maps from redistricting. This is her first election cycle as she won a special election to fill an open seat in late 2021. She is challenged for the GOP nomination by real estate agent Justin Turcsanski. On the Democratic side, Fatima Dirie is facing Jan Nordfelt and Sophia Hawes-Tingey. Dirie is trying again after falling 146 votes short in her race for the Utah House in 2020. Nordfeldt is married to West Valley City Councilman Lars Nordfeldt. Hawes-Tingey was the first transgender person to run for office in Utah.
Five Republicans are hoping to succeed Rep. Lowry Snow in HD74. They include Kristie Pike, wife of former St. George Mayor Jon Pike and Quin Denning, who lost the GOP nomination to Snow in 2020.
A few former members of the Legislature are looking to return to Utah’s Capitol Hill.
Logan Wilde is challenging Rep. Kera Birkeland in HD4. Wilde resigned in 2020 to become Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food but was replaced when Spencer Cox became Governor. Birkeland won the special election to fill the vacancy after Wilde resigned.
Rich Cunningham gave up his seat in the Utah House to run for state Senate, but he lost the Republican nomination to Lincoln Fillmore. Cunningham unsuccessfully ran against Fillmore again in 2020. He is now seeking to return to the Utah House, running against Rep. Susan Pulsipher for the GOP nomination. Pulsipher replaced Cunningham in 2016.
Former Rep. David Lifferth is part of a trio of Republicans running for the open seat in HD50. Lifferth ran for Utah Senate in 2016 but withdrew from the ballot before the GOP primary.
The United Utah Party fielded 20 candidates this cycle, including two for Congress. The party has had at least 20 candidates in every election cycle since its founding in 2017.
Perennial Libertarian candidate W. Andrew McCullough is running for Utah House in HD53, held by Republican Kay Christofferson. McCullough ran for Attorney General 6 times between 2000 and 2020. He was the Libertarian candidate for Governor in 2010.