Utah Attorney General election, 2012

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The Utah attorney general election took place on November 6, 2012, following a primary election on June 26, 2012.

Deputy attorney general John Swallow (R) defeated Dee W. Smith by a margin of 65-30 percent in the general election.[1]

Republican Party John Swallow (R)Green check mark transparent.png
Democratic Party Dee W. Smith (D)
Libertarian Party W. Andrew McCullough (L)

Called "one of the dirtiest in years,"[2] the Republican primary race for Attorney General - between outgoing attorney general Mark Shurtleff's deputy chief John Swallow and star attorney Sean D. Reyes - was settled in the June 26 primary, with Swallow scoring an easy win over Reyes. He will meet two other candidates in November's general election: Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith (D), who ran unopposed for his party's nomination, and perennial attorney general candidate, Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough.[3]

Current Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) did not seek re-election to a fourth term this year. Four hopefuls filed with the Lt. Governor to fill his position. The pool of candidates included two Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian, each a member of Utah's legal pantheon in his own right.

Utah's "Young Lawyer of the Year" [4] Republican Sean D. Reyes is currently general counsel at a local media and technology company eTAGZ. As an advocate of community outreach programs, Reyes has founded multiple non-profit organizations dedicated to education, business and anti-fraud awareness.[5]

Former state legislator John Swallow (R) was appointed chief deputy attorney general by Shurtleff in 2009. He oversees the civil division, spearheading the state's legal land battles against the federal government, and most prominently, the current battle to strike down Obamacare. He was the early favorite for the Republican nomination, and enjoyed a commanding lead in fundraising over Reyes as of the June 19 financial disclosure reports. He also spent nearly $200,000, about twice as much, as Reyes.[6]

In the weeks leading up the primary, the Republican candidates took turns defending themselves against negative advertising campaigns organized by opposing SuperPAC. The majority of anti-Reyes TV and radio spots were sponsored by a Las Vegas-based PAC called "It's Now or Never." The ads claimed Reyes lacks the civility required of a public servant based on a past reckless driving episode, as well accused him of making an illegal, under the table cash contribution to his political consultant. The accusation originated from a campaign finance reporting mishap in April involving a $5,000 reimbursement. The sum was "misreported"[7] as a contribution, according to Reyes, and the minor scandal was settled swiftly by the lieutenant governor's office, which oversees state elections. Reyes retaliated by bringing up a disclosure incident from Swallow's 2002 congressional campaign, in which case penalties were exacted, unlike the recent incident with his Treasurer. "He knows he can't beat me when it comes to credentials, either legal credentials or leadership credentials, so he resorts to these kinds of bush league tactics. "[8] The UTE SuperPAC responsible for sending mailers and airing - predominantly radio - spots against Swallow accused the deputy attorney general of being a target of a federal investigation for intervening in a Salt Lake County bid process.[7] Swallow's camp insists that the mailer in particular, which insinuated the candidate would face federal indictment, is a lie, and a "malicious hit piece and a potential violation of state law." [9] Democratic Weber County attorney Dee W. Smith said he believed his work prosecuting death penalty cases and other high-profile crimes qualify 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.[3] Smith was unopposed in the primary and promised to not let the campaign impinge on his caseload.

Libertarian candidate W. Andrew McCullough is a practicing attorney in Midvale, specializing in First and Fourth Amendment law. He was spurred to run by news of Democratic opponent Smith's candidacy, feeling it was responsibility 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. The 2012 race was round three for McCullough, whose unsuccessful bids left him undeterred. “Who’s counting?” he told the Standard-Examiner after filing for the 2012 election.[3]


General Election Results

Attorney General of Utah General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Dee W. Smith 30.1% 269,893
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Swallow 64.6% 579,118
     Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough 5.3% 47,347
Total Votes 896,358
Election Results via Utah Lieutenant Governor (dead link).

Primary Election Results

Attorney General of Utah, Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Swallow 68% 156,644
Sean D. Reyes 32% 73,868
Total Votes 230,512
Election Results via Utah.gov.


1 General Election Candidates
2 Primary Candidates
2.1 Democratic primary candidates
2.2 Republican primary candidates
2.3 Libertarian candidates

General Election Candidates

Primary Candidates

Donkey symbol.png Democratic primary candidates

  • Weber County attorney Dee W. Smith of South Ogden cites combating the three chief “threats our families face: illegal drugs, identity fraud, gangs and Internet crimes against children" as his highest campaign priorities.[3]

Gop logo2.jpg Republican primary candidates

  • Cottonwood Heights attorney Sean D. Reyes is a popular figure in local, state, and national politics, particularly within the Republican party for his service as a delegate, appointed member of the State Central Committee, and adviser on Latino issues. If elected, Reyes, who has mentioned repealing Obamacare his main priority for the office, would become Utah’s first statewide-elected official from a minority community.[4]
  • Deputy chief attorney general John Swallow of Sandy manages the AG office's civil division, and has led the state's land battles and the battle against federal health reform. In a Feb 13 statement, Swallow said "I have seen the federal government's intrusion into our lives at almost every level and am committed to putting an end to it."[11]

Libertarian candidates

  • Midvale attorney W. Andrew McCullough's campaign focuses on true-to-form Libertarian values such as reduced regulation in the markets and decriminalization of marijuana.
  • Q. Utah Policy.com polled Republican Insiders (poll#1), Democratic Insiders (poll#2), and readers (#3) asking who they think is most likely to win in the event of a primary face-off between attorney general candidates Sean Reyes and John Swallow.
    • According to the Republican insiders and readers who responded to the poll, Swallow has an overwhelming advantage over Reyes as of April 30, when the poll was conducted. Democratic insiders estimated Reyes chances to be significantly better, however, putting him a mere 2 points behind his primary opponent.

2012 Reyes VS Swallow
Poll Sean D. Reyes John Swallow
April 30, 2012
April 30, 2012
April 30, 2012
AVERAGES 38.67% 61.33%
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Republican Attorney General Selection
Poll Sean Reyes John SwallowSample Size
March 14, 2012
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
1 Due dates for reports
2 Candidates

Due dates for reports

The Lieutenant Governor of Utah administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online.

For the primary election:

  • Pre-convention report -- due 7 days before the party convention
  • Pre-Primary report -- due by June 19, 2012
  • Post-Primary report -- due by August 31, 2012

For the general election:

  • Pre-general report -- due by October 29, 2012
  • Year-end -- due by January 31, 2013


Dee W. Smith

Dee W. Smith Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Pre-ConventionApril 15, 2012$0.00$9,152.60$(79,042.07)$483.24
Pre-PrimaryJune 19, 2012$483.24$15,624.21$(9,213.95)$6,983.590
Post-PrimaryAugust 31, 2012$6,893.50$22,078.12$(19,835.57)$9,136.05
Pre-General[12]October 29, 2012$9,136.05$18,356.00$(19,733.50)$7,758.55
Running totals

John Swallow

John Swallow Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Pre-ConventionApril 16, 2012$0.00$453,493.37$(159,890.66)$293,603.71
Pre-PrimaryJune 19, 2012$273,840.44$225,615.00$(427,686.68)$71,768.76
Post-PrimaryAugust 31, 2012$71,768.76$555,175.41$(179,627.39)$447,316.78
Pre-General[13]October 29, 2012$$$()$
Running totals

W. Andrew McCullough

W. Andrew McCullough Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Pre-ConventionApril 16, 2012$0.00$1,169.67$(531.74)$637.93
Pre-PrimaryJune 19, 2012$637.93$1,419.00$(1,013.79)$1,043.14
Post-PrimaryAugust 31, 2012$1,043.14$155.20$(504.40)$693.94
Pre-General[14]October 29, 2012$693.94$5,478.65$(5,877.78)$294.81
Running totals

Former candidates

Sean D. Reyes Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Pre-ConventionApril 16, 2012$0.00$331,528.33$(248,447.68)$93,080.65
Pre-PrimaryJune 19, 2012$83,080.65$77,114.78$(148,382.66)$11,812.77
Running totals

Key dates

  • Administrative deadlines are at close of business (5:00) unless otherwise noted.
Deadline Event
Mar. 9 - Mar. 15 Candidate filing period
June 26 Primary election
Nov. 6 General election

Additional reading

See also


External links

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