Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Utah State Executive Officials

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November 2, 2012

By Maresa Strano

Portal:State Executive Officials

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: Five state executive positions are up for election in 2012 in the state of Utah.

In 4 of the 5 races, the incumbent is seeking re-election - Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has decided to not seek a fourth term in office. Two incumbents, Gov. Gary Herbert and Auditor Auston Johnson, faced contested primaries. In the end, Johnson, a 17 veteran of the office, was knocked out by Republican primary challenger state Rep. John Dougall.[1]

In all, six of the ten primary races were uncontested. All of the Democratic contests as well as the Republican race for treasurer had only one declared candidate. A total of six third party candidates have filed for offices - three Libertarians and three Constitution Party candidates - with at least one in each of the races. In Utah, candidates are not necessarily nominated through a primary election. Each party holds a statewide convention during which the party delegates vote for candidates. The primary election took place on June 26, 2012.

Voters will make their choice for the following positions on November 6th:

 Candidates for governor 

See also: Utah gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012

Democratic Party Peter Cooke and Vince Rampton (D)
Republican Party Gary Herbert and Greg Bell (R) Incumbent
Libertarian Party Ken Larsen and Rob Latham (L)
Constitution Party Kirk Pearson and Tim Alders (Constitution)

In Utah, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on a single ticket. Incumbent Republicans Gary Herbert and Greg Bell are running for re-election. Herbert was first elected lieutenant governor in 2004 on a ticket with Jon Huntsman. The pair was re-elected in 2008, and Herbert assumed the governorship on August 11, 2009 when Huntsman left office to take a position as U.S. Ambassador to China. He and Lt. Gov Gregory Bell won a special election in 2010 and are running for re-election to a full four year term this year.

At the statewide Republican Party nominating convention in late April, Herbert captured 63 percent of the Republican delegates, beating out five other candidates for his party's nomination.[2] At the Democratic Party's convention, Peter Cooke and his running mate Vince Rampton were unopposed and easily won their party's nod.[2] After the primary, additional third party candidates were added to the field for November's general election: Kirk Pearson defeated Brandon Nay by more than 30 percentage points for the Constitution Party nomincation; he later announced that his running mate would be Tim Alders.[3] The Libertarian ticket for Governor is made up of Ken Larsen and Tim Alders.

The 2012 Utah gubernatorial race is rated Solid Republican.

 Candidates for attorney general 

See also: Utah attorney general election, 2012
Democratic Party Dee W. Smith (D)
Republican Party John Swallow (R)
Libertarian Party W. Andrew McCullough (L)

Called "one of the dirtiest in years,"[4] the Republican primary race for Attorney General - between outgoing attorney general Mark Shurtleff's deputy chief John Swallow and star attorney Sean D. Reyes - ended with Swallow claiming the party's nomination, and barring any major upsets, the opportunity to succeed Shurtleff as the state's top law endorsement official.

Name recognition and establishment clout helped make Swallow an early favorite for the Republican nomination, and he enjoyed a commanding lead in fundraising over Reyes as of the June 19 financial disclosure reports. He also spent about twice as much as Reyes, nearly $200,000, on the primary race.[5] Swallow earned a majority of the delegate vote at the Republican nominating convention, but failed to reach the 60% threshold necessary to avoid the primary ballot.[6] He easily defeated Reyes in the primary election, but has not yet secured the win.

Two other candidates are also vying for the open seat: Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith (D), who ran unopposed for his party's nomination, and perennial attorney general candidate, Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough.[7]

Democrat Dee W. Smith, a Weber County attorney, believes his current work prosecuting death penalty cases and other high-profile crimes qualifies him for the state's top legal office. "I’ll be focusing on being a strong voice for law enforcement," he said of his plans.[7] Smith's uncontested primary status gave him temporary campaign relief, and lent credence to his promise to not let the campaign impinge on his present caseload. He upheld this promise post-primary, as evidenced by his campaign finance reports, which show little fundraising or spending activity. Of his priorities for the AG's office, he cites combating the three chief “threats our families face: illegal drugs, identity fraud, gangs and Internet crimes against children."[7]

The lone Libertarian candidate in the race, W. Andrew McCullough, is a practicing attorney in Midvale, specializing in 1st and 4th amendment law. His campaign focuses on true-to-form Libertarian values such as reduced regulation in the markets and decriminalization of marijuana. He was spurred to run by news of Democratic opponent Smith's candidacy, feeling it was incumbent upon him to represent the Libertarian party on one of its most important issues. “We’re against the death penalty, and he’s a death penalty guy, so I had to file” McCullough said. This year's race is round three for McCullough, whose past unsuccessful bids left him undeterred. “Who’s counting?” he told the Standard-Examiner after filing this week.[7]

Governing Politics has consistently rated the attorney general race as Safe Republican.[8][9]

 Candidates for Treasurer 
See also: Utah down ballot state executive elections, 2012
Republican Party Richard Ellis (R) Incumbent
Democratic Party Christopher Stout (D)
Libertarian Party Vincent Marcus (L)

Republican incumbent Richard Ellis was first elected in 2008 and is seeking his second term in office. He will face challenges from Democrat Christopher Stout and Libertarian Vincent Marcus in the general election. All three candidates for Utah Treasurer were unopposed in their parties' respective primaries.

 Candidates for state auditor 

See also: Utah down ballot state executive elections, 2012

After failing to secure his party's nomination at the state convention, incumbent Auston Johnson (R), who has held the office since July of 1995, fell to state Rep. John Dougall in the primary election. Dougall will go on to face Mark Sage, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination,[10] and Richard Proctor, who was unopposed for the Constitution Party nomination, in the general election.[3]

See also

West Virginia


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