SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah Democrats have announced some nominations for the general election during its Primary Convention Saturday, with what the party is calling the “fastest and most efficient election.” The party voted to send some candidates directly to the ballot in key races — including Chris Peterson for governor and Rep. Ben McAdams to keep his seat as the state’s only Democrat in Congress.
The convention was held virtually for the first time in its history, because of developments from the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Despite the virtual attendance, the party chairman said the voting rate was 85% — up from roughly 50% in recent years.
“I can say without a doubt that this has been the fastest and most efficient election we have had in the Democratic Party,” said Jeff Merchant, chair of the Utah Democratic Party, said in a statement. “I can also say it has been the most well attended by delegates and had the highest participant rate for which we have records.”
The Democrats announced the results of the convention Saturday, casting rank-choiced ballots electronically after viewing video speeches of each of the candidates.
“The Utah Democratic Party is convinced that this is both because of the methods we have chosen for balloting, but also because Democrats in Utah are hungry for change, and today they spoke,” Merchant said. “We are very pleased at this time to announce the winners of each of our races.”
After voting, Democrats advanced Rep. McAdams straight to the November general election with an 89.3% majority vote. Democrats also advanced Chris Peterson, Democratic candidate for governor, straight to the ballot with an 88.4% majority vote.
Because both McAdams and Peterson received over 60% of the vote, they will avoid the primary vote in June and advance straight to the November general election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate to face President Donald Trump in November, posted a video on the Utah Democratic Party’s convention website during the convention. Biden thanked the party for working to “elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Biden came in second during Utah’s Super Tuesday presidential primary behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The Republicans will host primary elections for both of those races after some candidates gathered voter signatures in past weeks to guarantee a spot on the June ballot.
With the usage of virtual voting, there are still voters who are calling to cast their ballots in “by voice” — which is why the GOP hasn’t received results yet, according to Derek Brown, Utah GOP chairman.
Brown said as they watch the race, they want to ensure everyone who can vote will vote, that votes are recorded correctly and that the process is transparent to both voters and candidates.
Several GOP candidates ran unopposed, meaning they won by acclamation — securing nominations on the November ballot. Those include:
- John Dougall, State Auditor
- David Damschen, State Treasurer
- Jake Anderegg, State Senate District 13
- Gregg Buxton, State Senate District 20
- David Hinkins, State Senate District 27
- Joel Ferry, State House District 1
- Mike Schultz, State House District 12
- Carol Hunter, State House District 28
- Kera Birkeland, State House District 53
- Scott Chew, State House District 55
- Merrill Nelson, State House District 68
- Christine Watkins, State House District 69
- Carl Albrecht, State House District 70
- Phil Lyman, State House District 73
- Bruce Hough, RNC National Committeeman
- Anne-Marie Lampropolous, RNC National Committeewoman
Dougall is also running as lieutenant governor on the same ticket as gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton. The deadline to file at lieutenant governor is Monday, so if Winder Newton makes it past the GOP convention to get her name on the ballot for the primary Dougall will drop from the auditor race.
Voting closed at 5 p.m. The GOP is expected to announce convention results later Saturday evening.
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