Legislative Lowdown: Identifying competitive Utah elections in 2014

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April 14, 2014

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2014 Utah Legislative Lowdown

Table of Contents
Majority control
Margin of victory
Competitiveness

Other 2014 Election coverage
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By Ballotpedia's State legislative team

Although neither chamber is in consideration to potentially flip in the coming election, several races feature former legislators running to return to the legislature. Former Senator Ross Romero (D) is running for the seat of the retiring Patricia Jones (D). Casey Anderson (R), an incumbent who lost in the 2012 Republican convention to Evan Vickers (R), will get a re-match in this year’s convention. Although he lost to Janice Fisher (D) in 2012 after the two were drawn together, former Representative Fred Cox (R) will run for Fisher’s seat following her retirement. Former Representative Holly Richardson (R) is challenging incumbent Brian Greene (R), while Jerry Anderson (R) will face the challenge of two former legislators, Christine Watkins (R) and Bill Labrum (R).

March 20 was the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for Utah State Senate and Utah House of Representatives. Elections in 14 Senate districts and all 75 House districts will consist of a primary election on June 24, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014.

See also: 2014's state legislative elections; Utah State Senate elections and Utah House of Representatives elections

Majority control

Heading into the November 4 election, the Republican Party holds the majority in both state legislative chambers. Utah's office of Governor is held by Gary R. Herbert (R), making the state one of 23 with a Republican state government trifecta.

The Utah Senate has a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republican of 19 seats, which amounts to 136 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. None of the districts up for election in 2014 were up for election in 2012.

Utah State Senate
Party As of August 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 5 Pending
     Republican Party 24 Pending
Total 29 29

The Utah House has a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republican of 46 seats, which amounts to 61 percent of the chamber. In 2012, a total of eight districts were competitive or mildly competitive. There were four districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another four districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Utah House of Representatives
Party As of August 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 14 Pending
     Republican Party 61 Pending
Total 75 75
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Margin of victory

House

All 75 seats in the House were up for election in 2012. Five of those seats held competitive elections in 2012 with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Four other elections were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory of 5 to 10 percent. There were ten districts where only one major party candidate appeared on the general election ballot.[1]

The districts with elections in 2014 which held competitive or mildly competitive elections in 2012 are:

Competitive

  • District 30: Michael D. Lee is unopposed in the Democratic convention, while Fred Cox will face Carbon Lundgren in the Republican primary. Incumbent Janice Fisher (D) won the general election by a margin of victory of 3 percent in 2012.
  • District 31: Incumbent Larry Wiley (D) will face off against the winner of the Republican convention between Fred Johnson and Sophia DiCaro. Wiley won the general election by a margin of victory of 1 percent in 2012.
  • District 37: Incumbent Carol Moss (D) will face Ron Hilton (R) and Wallace McCormick (Independent American) in the general election. Moss won the general election by a margin of victory of 3 percent in 2012.
  • District 69: Incumbent Jerry Anderson (R) will face Christine Watkins and Bill Labrum in the Republican convention. The winner of that contest will go on to face Brad King (D) in the general election. Anderson won the general election by a margin of victory of 3 percent in 2012.

Mildly competitive

  • District 10: Incumbent Dixon M. Pitcher (D) will face Eric Irvine (R) in the general election. Pitcher won the general election by a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012.
  • District 33: Incumbent Craig Hall (R) will face Elizabeth Muniz (D) in the general election. Hall won the general election by a margin of victory of 6 percent in 2012.
  • District 34: Incumbent Johnny Anderson (R) will face off against the winner of the Democratic convention between Karen Kwan and Dean Campbell. Anderson won the general election by a margin of victory of 7 percent in 2012.
  • District 46: Incumbent Marie Poulson (D) will face N. William Clayton (R) and Lee Anne Walker (L) in the general election. Poulson won the general election by a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012.

Competitiveness

Using the official candidate lists from each state, Ballotpedia staff analyzes each district's election to look at the following circumstances:

  • Is the incumbent running for re-election?
  • If an incumbent is running, do they face a primary challenger?
  • Are both major parties represented on the general election ballot?

In Utah's 2014 elections, those circumstances break down as follows:

  • There are 12 open seats (13.5%) in the two chambers.
  • A total of 22 incumbents (28.6%) face a primary challenger.
  • Just 73 districts (82.0%) will feature a Democratic and Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

The following table puts the 2014 data into historical context. Overall index is calculated as the average of the three circumstances.

Comparing Utah Competitiveness over the Years
Year  % Incs retiring  % incs rank  % Incs facing primary  % Incs primary rank  % seats with 2 MPC  % seats with 2 MPC rank Overall Index Overall Index Rank
2010 11.1% 30 30.0% 8 78.9% 11 40 10
2012 17.6% 27 39.7% 6 81.3% 10 46.2 8
2014 13.5% Pending 28.6% Pending 82.0% Pending 41.4 Pending

Senate

The following table details competitiveness in the Utah State Senate.

Utah Senate Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
14.3% 28.6% 85.7% 42.9

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 2 (14.3%) of the 14 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of one Republican and one Democrat are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 12 (85.7%) of the 14 districts up for election.[2]

Convention challenges

A total of 4 incumbents will face convention competition for their party's nomination. Two incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 8 incumbents will advance past the convention without opposition.[2] The state senators facing primary convention are:

Retiring incumbents

There are two incumbent senators who are not running for re-election, while 12 (85.7%) are running for re-election.[2] The following table lists the incumbents, one Democrat and one Republican, who are not running for re-election.

Name Party Current Office
Patricia Jones Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 04
Stuart C. Reid Ends.png Republican Senate District 18

House

The following table details competitiveness in the Utah House of Representatives.

Utah House Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
13.3% 24.0% 81.3% 39.5

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 14 (18.7%) of the 75 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of 13 Republicans and 1 Democrat are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 61 (81.3%) of the 75 districts up for election.[2]

Convention challenges

A total of 18 incumbents will face convention competition for their party's nomination. Ten incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 46 incumbents will advance past the convention without opposition.[2] The representatives facing convention competition are:

Retiring incumbents

There are ten incumbent representatives who are not running for re-election, while 64 (85.3%) are running for re-election.[2] The following table lists all incumbents, four Democrats and six Republicans, who are not running for re-election.

Name Party Current Office
Ronda Menlove Ends.png Republican House District 1
Ryan Wilcox Ends.png Republican House District 7
Roger Barrus Ends.png Republican House District 18
Jim Nielson Ends.png Republican House District 19
Jennifer Seelig Electiondot.png Democratic House District 23
Janice Fisher Electiondot.png Democratic House District 30
Lynn Hemingway Electiondot.png Democratic House District 40
Tim Cosgrove Electiondot.png Democratic House District 44
John Mathis Ends.png Republican House District 55
Rebecca Lockhart Ends.png Republican House District 64

See also

External links

References